Some friends of ours have just become involved in a new venture – brewing beer! Surprise follows in that it – Rocky Head Pale Ale – has been very well received and is now being promoted at Oddbins and Selfridges to name a few. I can't say what it tastes like (yet) but rumour has it that orange undertones and lots of hops are the order of the day. If you fancy a change from the usual mass produced bottles, and would like to support a micro brewery, then look this out and give it a go.

 

I'm writing this article using Blogsy, which so far appears to be the best blogging option for the iPad by far. That's not to say that it is quite as simple as doing the same job on your laptop, but it is certainly easier than using one of the native apps, such as WordPress.

Blogsy

It has a nice clear interface (similar to most iPad apps to be honest), and a neat 2 sided panel for actually entering the article: a “rich” side, which allows images to be dragged onto the page, and an “HTML” side, for entering the text, editing in raw form, and generally tidying up the details.

Down the side are a number of accelerators, which allow you to find and add images to your posts, or to upload images from your camera roll to a number of social networking sites. Best of all it just seems to work!

All in all, very much to be recommended, as you can see.

 

The application of the day has to be Flipboard. Given that the premise of a social content reader is so simple, the execution is quite excellent and the results speak for themselves (see below for an example). You can choose from a selection of ready made feeds from partner publishers provided by Flipboard and add these to the front page, or you can choose customised feeds based on your social network sires to create a personalised feed.

The front page itself is a relatively simple bento box style selection of squares which makes it very easy to choose a topic to browse, but once into the content proper, Flipboard does a remarkable job of turning the text and images from the selected sources into a very readable graphical magazine style format.

Drilling into the detail from the headlines is a simple tap, and flipping from one page to the next shows off the capability of the iPad to the best. Whilst Flipboard relies entirely on a data stream from the Internet, the overall result in certainly a step up from others and provides a cool way to browse news from friends and the Web alike. And best of all, it’s free!

I suppose it had to happen sooner or later, but I have given into the dark side and finally bought (or caused to have bought) an apple product bigger than the iPod nano that keep the two small people happy in the back of the car! As you can see below, I’ve been tempted into buying an iPad.

So far, so predictable! I’m still getting to grips with it, so I’ll keep you posted as I find out how to use it…

I’ve had an LG 19″ LCD monitor for a few years now, and with the slow march of progress, it was time to think about a replacement.  Cue list of desirable features:

  • Larger screen size than previous, around 21″ or 22″
  • Widescreen aspect, either 16:9 or 16:10
  • Lower energy consumption, both in operation and especially of standby
  • Better stand, with ideally both landscape and portrait modes
  • A USB hub built in to provide desktop extensibility
  • A quality screen, with good colour reproduction in support of Adobe products for the photographer
  • Not too expensive 🙂

After a sensible scan around the field, I considered a few options, including another LG, and a Dell. I picked the Dell.

Why? Well, for a number of reasons:

  1. Good match to the requirements
  2. S-IPS LCD screen, giving excellent colour fidelity and wide vertical viewing angle
  3. High-ish resolution of 1680×1050 (not full 1080p, but then it isn’t aimed at watching HD video)
  4. Quick (6ms) and bright (300 cd/m2)
  5. 3-year warranty
  6. 1 watt power consuption in standby

Dell 2209WA Review — From a Photographer’s Perspective
Dell 2209WA Images – Page 3 – Monitors
DELL Dell Ultrasharp™ 2209WA 22-Inch Widescreen Flat Panel Monitor

OK

I’m not much into bizarre case mods, but this almost perfect replica of Wall-e built by a Russian (18 days apparently) is one of the better ones out there.

As you can see, this is going to be in Russian, and probably breaks the odd copyright law, but given the amount of work this fella went to, I think we can give him a break on this occassion. Of course it does help if you have access to some nice heavy grade aluminium sheeting, and a full machinists workshop. Enjoy!

It is a given side effect of blogs that as soon as you have one, the spammers of the world find you’re out there and start posting inane and useless stuff as comments on your site. WordPress has a very good span filter in the form of Askimet, but it helps to keep the spammers out before they even get to post, but using anti-robot technology.

ReCaptcha

ReCaptcha

One such option is provided through the use of key words displayed as distorted images whenever a comment is requested. Known as CAPTCHA (for Completely Automated Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart) this technique was invented out of Carnegie Mellon University in 2000, and does a very creditable job. However, to gain extra value, this has been refined into reCAPTCHA, which utilizes CAPTCHA to assist in the process of digitizing the text of old books, thus generally adding to the amount of good information in electronic form.

To get more info, go to the reCAPTCHA site.

I’ve recently switched my Gallery to use the excellent Zen Photo web gallery. This is simpler than Coppermine, but retains enough of smart navigation to be very usable. The presentation is very slick too, with lots of interchangeable themes to choose from.

Zen Photo (sample theme)

Zen Photo (sample theme)

In making the change, that meant I also had to create a new WordPress widget to replicate the existing Coppermine widget, and display a random image from Zen Photo in the sidebar.

To get hold of the Zen Photo WordPress widget, and to get updates, go to my widgets page.

There are an increasing number of network attached storage (NAS) devices, each of which offers at the minimum access to a hard disk drive in an external enclosure. Some devices also offer additional facilities such as active data redundancy (see the earlier post on the Drobo storage robot), but with the Synology DS207+ device, you also receive a whole lot more.

Synology DS209+

Synology DS209+

The product runs a cut down version of linux, which makes it adaptable, and capable of running many useful services in the mode of an independent server. Web services run to serving html pages, a photo album/gallery, an FTP server, etc. Barring some noise from the fan unit used to cool the motherboard and drives, there\’s very little to complain about this device.

For more information, see the official Synology site…

Synology Inc. :: Products :: Disk Station DS207+

This site has been hosted using the popular blog publishing system from WordPress. It’s very easy to use, the themes can be customised easily, and it doesn’t try to be all things to all people. However, in the interest of keeping all things fresh, I have been looking at alternate CMS systems, including XOOPS, Drupal and Joomla!

Actually, there are probably several hundred CMS applications now available, both commercial and open source. As a result, trying to pick the ‘best’ CMS for your site is almost impossible. To make the decision easier, I decided to turn to the web, and look for some comparative reviews. And the best place I’ve found so far is CMS Matrix.

CMS Matrix logo

Run by Plain Black Corporation, the site was created in an attempt to provide a comprehensive list of CMS systems. It is a place where someone can search on very specific criteria and see a list of CMS systems that match that list. I’ve certainly found it useful!

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