Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My top-rated image on My-Place

vote for me on MyPlace

Google Android platform could challenge iPhone

Google’s iPhone killer? by ZDNet's Jason D. O'Grady -- In a video posted yesterday to YouTube, Google’s Sergey Brin and Steve Horowitz demo the Android mobile phone platform, discuss the availability of the SDK and mention that it will be open source in the future. Hopefully Cupertino is paying attention. What do you think, does iPhone have anything to worry about? Garett Rogers is covering Android [...]

Sunday, November 04, 2007


You can buy my artwork in several places. Imagekind is the latest. Why not check it out.

Monday, October 15, 2007

I'm a winner!

One of my photos has won a prize! My image from a trip to Scotland entered in the My Place competition on the Panasonic site was chosen as a runner -up in the Pro choice of the month!

vote for me on MyPlace

My prize is a voucher worth £100 off a camera from the Panasonic e-shop. Not sure which one I'll buy but my daughter has already claimed it!

There is still time to vote on any of my images on the site. Just follow the link by clicking on the picture above.

Friday, October 12, 2007

London Wall Image now on Flickr

London Wall, originally uploaded by newbeltane.

You can also purchase this image on various products from my Zazzle Gallery at*.

The photo was taken in the late 1980's on a Canon EOS 620 35mm SLR (film). The negative was scanned into Photoshop 7.0.1 and then it was tweaked (Levels, USM etc).

If you are interested in purchasing a limited edition print of this image please contact me via my blog or Zazzle Gallery or via Flickr.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Latest sale on Zazzle

My sales on Zazzle are starting to take off. My latest sale was of this postage stamp design:

Postcards seem to be a good seller, along with T-shirts as well as cards.
Apple continues to surprise the pundits with new releases, this time to its iPod line. My favourite is the new iPod Nano. I can't see the attraction of the iTouch personally... why bother when you can get an iPhone?

According to several reviews the quality of the video on the new Nano iPods is quite something. How long before we see the demise of the Shuffle I wonder? Maybe some folk will be happy without video but the rate the technology is developing at and the relative decreases in price over time I can envisage a time in the not too distant future when the whole range will be video enabled.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Squidoo Lenses

Squidoo is the world's most popular site for people who want to build a page about their passions. Highlight books, blogs, vids, online shops, or just spread the word about stuff you love. Bonus: you raise money (for you or charity) at the same time! It's fast, free, and supereasy. (Pssst: it only takes 4.2 minutes to get started...)

So, I have dived in and given it a whirl. I currently have two lenses:

Good Governance and

Christian Youthwork

I'll let you know how I get on and if they are worth the effort and time they require. In the meantime, if you are involved in youthwork of working in the charity (non-profit) sector, drop by and let me know what you think.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Check out my Lens on Squidoo!

Check out my lens

Skitch Beta goes live!

Here is the first image I have uploaded to my new Skitch account.

Check out the site as I think there are still some invites available. It makes sharing images, snapshots from the web, your webcam etc so easy!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Windows on MacBook Pro | Some personal thoughts

I have been using Parallels virtualisation software from its first beta. I am considering upgrading to the latest version (3.0) but awaiting a response from VMWare to a query about Fusion, which I have also been testing from the first beta.

I managed to install Win XP Home Edition (with SP1 only - Boot Camp insists on SP2) and have had it up and running smoothly for quite a while now, at least until the other day. Then things all went pear-shpaed. Not, I hasten top add, due to either Parallels or VMWare. No, this time it was a Mac program that was to blame. I was getting a full hard disk and as I work with Photoshop quite a bit I was getting fed up of the constant nagging about my lack of disk space for my scratch disks. I do have 3 external disks (2 FW and 1 USB) totaling some 900 GB, which with my 100 GB internal drive in my MacBook Pro makes 1 whole Terabyte. It doesn't seem that long ago I was working with hard drives of just 20MB!

However, despite all this external disk space (which I use for backups mainly) I needed to make some space. So, I thought about Monolingual, a program for deleting all those languages you never use and stripping out the PPC bits (as I am using an Intel Mac). Silly me, I forgot that Microsoft Office is still PPC and so is Photoshop 7.0. So, it was a stupid thing to do as it meant that these programs would no longer work. They now took ages (like 10 minutes!) to load and then refused to print. At first I couldn't work out what was going on, until I read a few forum postings and discovered my mistake. Also, to make matters worse, it seemed to have screwed up my Win XP installation. Whether I booted up with Boot Camp, Parallels or VMWare, I got various errors, mainly about a missing system file.

Searching the forums for a solution drew a blank and I was facing a re-install of Tiger and so a backup was called for. However, Carbon Copy Cloner was also refusing to work, which was a real pain as I found this excellent software a great way to archive your whole system and then do a clean install. So, it was the slow process of backing up manually key files etc, jsut in case. Then it was onto a re-install of Tiger using the option to save system files and Home Directory into a folder. Eventually, I was back up and running and ready to try again with Win XP.

Initially, I had no joy with any of the three ways of running XP, Boot Camp, Parallels and VMWare all refused to start up XP. Eventually, I had to do a complete re-install of XP using Parallels Boot Camp wouldn't work with my XP Home Edition as it was only SP1 and SP2. Once XP was up and running I was back to where I wanted to be. I include an image of the installation in progress, taken using Parallels screenshot facility.

The install failed at first but a restart seemed to cure whatever the issue was. Also, the SP2 update failed at first and again a restart cured that, something that used to happen a lot on a beige PC when re-installing XP and re-updating with SP2. Man, what a drag!

So all that remains is to try VMWare Fusion Beta 4 again and also update Boot Camp. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

New Job!

After 4 years of spasmodic work due mainly to health, I now have a new job as General Manager and Clerk to the Trustees of the Winsley's Charity. Based in Colchester, the Charity provides Almshouse Accommodation for older people.

I will be creating a website in the near future for the charity as well as a database, along with lots of other duties. I'm looking forward to it and even though the job is part-time, its just what I've been looking for the past 18 months.

I'll post the url for the site once its up and running but as the job starts 1 July it will be a couple of months or so before it goes live.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The search for Madeleine McCann

Millions visit Madeleine website and the website has attracted thousands of messages of support. More than 50 million hits so far, its organisers say.

Multinationals including BP, McDonald's and supermarket chain Carrefour are also supporting efforts to spread the image of the four-year-old in Europe. Rewards totaling over £2.5 million have been offered.

What is striking about all this how the plight of this little girl has had such a massive response, when around the world every day children are dying from lack of clean water and sanitation, as well as famine, war and abuse. Child slavery is alive and well and coming to a store near you yesterday!

Not that all those wrongs should cancel this one good thing. Far from it, but it does beg several questions.

Firstly, the power of the media. The family and its supporters have done an excellent job of keeping media interest in the story high. How much that is due to a lack of stories of interest (to the media at least) is difficult to assess. Certainly there are plenty of other worthy stories if only the press could be interested.

Secondly, what does the whole affair say about the British people (I am a Brit myself)? There has been quite a lot of criticism of the Portuguese Police, comparing them unfavourably with British Police and how we react over here to such cases. I am firmly of the opinion that they police are doing their best within the framework of the Portuguese criminal justice system. However, we Brits can be somewhat disparaging about foreigners at times and its embarrassing.

Thirdly, what does this say about the relative value of white children, especially girls, from middle-class (apologies to those of you who don't have 'class' in your countries - read comfortably well-off professional here instead) compared to non-white children from poor families, especially foreign kids? Sadly, it seems, children like Madeleine McCann, have more value than others who are from non-white families, especially if they are poor and non-Christian too. (Please note: I am a white male Christian - make of that what you will).

For those who are interested in looking in more depth at the plight of children all around the world, I suggest the following sites as a starting place:

For your interest, here are some staggering statistics to contemplate:
Around the world, 27–30,000 children die every day.

That is equivalent to:

* 1 child dying every 3 seconds
* 20 children dying every minute
* A 2004 Asian Tsunami occurring almost every week
* An Iraq-scale death toll every 15–35 days
* 10–11 million children dying every year
* Over 50 million children dying between 2000 and 2005

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Apple announces 8-Core Mac Pro!

Apple has quietly announced the new 8-Core Mac Pro - that's a Mac Pro with Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors. Running at up to 3.0GHz, they bring industry-leading 64-bit performance to every Mac Pro.

As predicted in an earlier post, this was an inevitable step once Intel announced its Quad-core Xeon processors. The announcement couldn't come at a better time either with Adobe finally announcing the release of CS3. Finally an Intel native version of the most popular software used by graphic designers and the like. Its been a couple of years or so but it looks like the wait was worth it. Unfortunately, it will be quite a while before I can afford the upgrade. I am still using Photoshop 7 although its quite sufficent for most of my needs.

According to the reviews I have read CS3 is even better than expected and with the new 8-Core Macs its sure to fly. I predict that this will really get the Macs flying off the shelves in the next 6 months. Pity I can't afford to buy any Apple shares, as they are sure to rise too.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Apple's change of name

So, Apple has dropped the word 'computer' from its name. What does this mean for the future of the Mac? Personally, I think it doesn't add anything new to the pot, in the sense that Apple has long been more than just a computer company. After all, the iPod isn't exactly a computer and we've had it around for what seems decades now, its presence is so pervasive in our lives.

One could also argue that from the very start Apple has been as much about the software as the hardware.. remember Claris and remember too that Bill Gates was turned down by Steve Jobs when he asked to license the Mac OS. In many ways, the non-computer side of Apple has been what's kept the computer [hardware] side alive all these years. Certainly, for myself, the OS has been more of an attraction than the hardware over the years, though I do love the design and reliability of the hardware too.

So, as for the future of the Mac, what does all this mean? Well, as I see it this name dropping thing is simply an acknowledgement of the reality that Apple is more than the Mac. It is indeed more than the sum of the parts, so to speak. I believe that the iPod and now the iPhone are examples of Apple re-inventing the wheel. They didn't invent the MP3 player (in fact they bought in the iPod, rather than develop it from scratch in-house). They just re-invented it in a way that made the whole thing attractive to so many of us that we just had to have one. Even now, 98% of the MP3 players on the market are plain rubbish. They look pretty naff too. So too with the iPhone. Already it is forcing a re-think on the part of manufacturer's and though many will still bring out naff phones for years to come, the top models will be trying to steal the iPhone's thunder. Certainly, I forsee there will be more touchscreen phones in the future, though how they will compete with Apple's GUI is a problem for them. That's why I believe that in five years or less, Apple will have captured over 50% of the market for mobile phones in the so-called 'smartphone' sector.

As for the Mac, well I am not afraid that it will shrivel up and die any time soon. What with Quad-core chips already leaving the Intel factories I expect an 8-core Mac Pro anytime soon. In fact, I reckon that it won't be long before all Macs are at least Quad-core, including laptops (especially laptops). In fact, I am dreaming of owning such a laptop within the next 18 months. If Apple is interested, here is my spec:

1. Quad Core CPU
2. Improved Graphics Card/CPU [capabale of running DirectX 10 under 'Boot Camp' [or whatever Apple call it by then]
3. High quality screens with improved brightness, contrast and better energy efficiency [OLEDS?)
4. Flash memory drive alongside a SATA drive, for faster booting and as faster virtual memory
5. Longer battery life [minimum 6 hours at peak use of cpu, drive etc]
6. Touch-screen model, perhaps using some of the iPhone GUI tricks.

So, here's keeping my fingers crossed for summer 2008!

As for the rest of the range,if Apple could bring out a Quad-Core Mac Mini for under £500 inc 17" TFT, keyboard and mouse, they would have a sure-fire winner as more folk would switch. I know that I could have sold truckloads of such a computer but instead see friends and family opting for a Windoze pc instead simply on price. They know that Windows is a dog, they know they're going end up paying me to sort out the inevitable crashes, virus and spyware infections and that they look at my MacBook Pro with envy.

A laptop that cost under £600 that was suitable for the kids, and for the average business user would sell like hot cakes too. So, how about it Apple?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

iPhone finally confirmed!

Introducing iPhone

iPhone combines three products — a revolutionary mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and a breakthrough Internet communications device with desktop-class email, web browsing, maps, and searching — into one small and lightweight handheld device. iPhone also introduces an entirely new user interface based on a large multi-touch display and pioneering new software, letting you control everything with just your fingers. So it ushers in an era of software power and sophistication never before seen in a mobile device, completely redefining what you can do on a mobile phone.

Apple finally confirmed what many had been speculating about for months at Macworld last week. Its new iPhone is frankly like nothing imagined by most if not all of those coming forward with mock ups. The absence of any buttons on the fascia caught everyone by surprise and the details about the actual interface show just how revolutionary this device is going to be. I reckon most phone manufacturers are shaking in their boots right now and hastily revising plans for their next products!

As for me, I am looking forward to its European release, hopefully in time for Christmas 2007! As for other implications, can we see an offical Apple Tablet Mac in the future? I still believe we can and can you imagine too what a 12" touch screen would look like, especially if Apple dispenses with the keyboard altogether! My prediction is that by Macworld 2008 Apple will announce such a product.

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