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Happy Birthday :-) (Smiley’s 25th Anniversary) September 19, 2007

Posted by Tom in blogging, tech news, Techstuff.
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25 years ago today the smiley was born…. After much discussion about how to show jokes and humour online Scott E. Fahlman came up with the smiley.

Here is an excerpt from the discussion which gave birth to a new cultural phenomenon.

17-Sep-82 10:58 Neil Swartz at CMU-750R Elevator posts Maybe we should adopt a convention of putting a star (*) in the subject field of any notice which is to be taken as a joke.

17-Sep-82 14:59 Joseph Ginder at CMU-10A (*%) I believe that the joke character should be % rather than *.

17-Sep-82 15:15 Anthony Stentz at CMU-780G (*%) How about using * for good jokes and % for bad jokes? We could even use *% for jokes that are so bad, they’re funny.

17-Sep-82 17:40 Keith Wright at CMU-10A *%&#$ Jokes! No, no, no! Surely everyone will agree that “&” is the funniest character on the keyboard. It looks funny (like a jolly fat man in convulsions of laughter). It sounds funny (say it loud and fast three times). I just know if I could get my nose into the vacuum of the CRT it would even smell funny!

17-Sep-82 17:42 Leonard Hamey at CMU-10A {#} (previously *) …I think that the joke character should be the sequence {#} because it looks like two lips with teeth showing between them. This is the expected result if someone actually laughs their head off…

19-Sep-82 11:44 Scott E Fahlman :-) From: Scott E Fahlman <Fahlman at Cmu-20c> I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers: :-) Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use :-(

Thank you smiley for helping me express myself , and thank you Scot for inventing it :-)

UPDATE: Switched off WordPress automatic graphic display of emoticons … shows how far they have come I suppose.


Cities 1 September 11, 2007

Posted by Tom in Cities, future, Long Now.
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I am going to dedicate a series of posts to cities as they are quickly becoming one of the most popular solutions when thinking about a sustainable future.

To get an idea of future and scale, the Long Now Foundation blog has found this excellent video.

The video is a time lapse of 35 years of Tokyo’s skyline. That is two more years than I have lived.

It reminds me of building a city in Sim City then pressing fast forward as you can see in the trailer for the game (about half way through):

Bicycle Elevator September 9, 2007

Posted by Tom in Alta de Lisboa, anti-car, Environment, Lisbon, Techstuff.
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One the strongest cases against cycling in Lisbon is the hills. While Lisbon is said to be built on seven hills most of the city is in fact fairly flat. This, however, does not stop politicians claiming that Lisbon will never be a city for cyclists because of the hills.

One of the Seven hills Lisboa

Here you can see one of the hills in question.

Thankfully we can rely on the Norwegians for a solution (Found by Tiago on Viver Alta de Lisboa) .

This is the obvious answer to Lisbon’s hills for cyclists. Now there is no excuse.

For all Lisboners (and any visitors in Lisbon) there will be a city bike ride for the European Mobility week on the 16th September:

A Federação Portuguesa de Cicloturismo e Utilizadores de Bicicleta page

The ride goes from the centre of town near the river to the centre of town in the north of the city (Alta de Lisboa) and back again.

Starting Tomorrow… September 4, 2007

Posted by Tom in Lisbon, MOTELx.
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See the timetables here

Get ready… Lisbon’s most exciting film festival is about to start.MOTEx

Miro September 3, 2007

Posted by Tom in new world, OS X, Portuguese lousy communications companies, Techstuff.
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Get Miro

Miro is the best Internet video player I have found.

This really replaces the TV. I’ve tried Joost or Joust or whatever it was called and it was lots of fancy graphics with no content.

This fantastic app finds free video on the web as well as any video you have on your system and allows you to watch it all from one place. What is even better, is that it downloads video in the background then keeps it for as long as you want (default 5 days) then deletes it (if you want). This ensures you don’t miss great stuff and your hard drive doesn’t get too full.

One drawback is series… I suppose we’ll have to keep on torrenting until Apple or some other media company gets its act together and allows us to buy online. I say this as we have such busy lives and really DON’T have time to be watching TV at fixed times or setting up digital recorders to be doing this for us.

On a side note… I can’t wait till the ridiculous 12 month loyalty scheme I had to sign up to (to get my internet working) of Television is up.

I thoroughly recommend this application.

As the developers of Miro say…

free video!

Apple IMC Portugal store back up September 3, 2007

Posted by Tom in Apple, Techstuff.
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I am happy to say the Portuguese “Apple” store is back up.

I have to add that the home page is terribly out of date…

Hot news: Prepare for WWDC 2007, Apple launches new iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle now comes in colours…

Please wake me when the news is news.


Messing with my looks August 29, 2007

Posted by Tom in blogging.
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So I’ve been blogging for not too long, I feel like a teenager working out how I should look.
I have hummed and harred a bit (is that spelt correctly?) and decided that I would forgo the wider images and keep to the lighter look of regulus lite.
I previously posted about the theme and was full of praise. So welcome back Regulus and apologies to my few readers for the journey through eye candy.

Apple Portugal rant August 29, 2007

Posted by Tom in Apple, Mac software, Techstuff.

I need to complain somewhere so I’ll do it here. Don’t worry I’ll be brief.

Apple in Portugal has been like Freedom of Speech in China.

That is virtually non-existent.

The upside (for me) was that all software I can get here was in English.

Now they are making some in-roads.

Apple Portugal now exists as an entity (albeit a small and still functionless one) and iLife08 is being sold here as a Portuguese version in retailers.

So I head on over to Apple IMC (the official channel for all things Apple in Portugal) and look on their website store (they call it an Apple Store but it is nothing like the real thing).

I suppose if I can get an English version anywhere it has to be there…

And this is what I saw…

Apple store pt

… a couple of days ago.

I ignored it thinking that all would be well in an hour or two.

How wrong I was… after all this Apple IMC, not Apple Portugal.

Two days later and all is the same.

I look around their site for other retailers and stumble across this gem…


Roughly Translated this says…


Choose your iPod, configure your new mac according to your exact needsusing the models on the market as a starting point.

nothing new or exciting there

The Apple Online store never closes and sells all the accessories you could need for your iPod or new Mac. etc etc

Hang on a sec…. Never closes!!!? Well I’d say that would be true if it were closed for an hour or two, but two days (if not more!!)

OK, I feel better, I’ve had my rant.

Now over to Amazon UK.

(I have, in the past, tried writing to Apple IMC and all I ever receive in reply a rather sad complaint back that the guy making the site is alone and he doesn’t have enough time. — So don’t try and copy Apple.com and get your job done properly I say.)


Here is the map from Apple.

Apple Euro Store locator

Looks like they forgot something on the left. (ie WEST and closest to USA)

Toms Shoes August 28, 2007

Posted by Tom in Environment, future, new world, Science Fiction (for now), social problems.
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I haven’t been suffering from writer’s block, or blogger’s block… I”ve been trying to find something really good…

Well, unless I’m wrong, I think have found another great New World Idea.

Toms Shoes

As far as I can tell this is a great idea and part of what I envisage in the future.

Business that gives to those who need.


By selling to those who have.

I might be wrong and I would like to research this further.

I like the idea.

In Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars series he writes about a new economy for Mars as it is being terra-formed.

It is an ecological economy in which giving is fundamental to the way the economy works.

I would like to read more about this so any suggestions are welcome.

Anyway back to the point, here is a quick video with a slightly gushy we’re going to save the world feel about Toms shoes

Excellence beats numbers – VAIO LS vs. iMac August 27, 2007

Posted by Tom in Apple, OS X, Techstuff, VAIO.

There area number of people who ask me why I use a Mac. Now to those readers who use a Mac and who are Stateside or possibly residing in some countries in North Europe this may be something that they don’t hear very often anymore. However here in Portugal, Mac is only just beginning to be noticed by a few savvy users (beyond the hardcore user base).

I am writing this post for those people who ask me the dreaded question. So let’s begin:

Sony have just released a beautiful machine. It’s called the VAIO Living System or less science-fictiony and less appealingly LS or All-in-one (like the cheap printers you can get your hands on nowadays).

Vaio LS All-in-one overall

This is what it looks like.

Pretty nice. In fact– Very nice. I would buy this if had the cash spare ($1,799 or approx. €1320)…

Vaio LS Keyboard

Even the Keyboard looks quite innovative and is fairly thin.

The mouse is nothing to write home about (regular slightly “designed” mouse).

All this looks very good until you compare it with Apple’s latest desktop consumer offering:

iMac OverallThe iMac.

Granted, from the front there isn’t much in it. They both look pretty sleek.

The problems for the VAIO appear when you start looking in 3D and looking closer:

VAIO LS Profile

This is the VAIO’s profile.

iMac profile

This is the iMac’s.

Enough said.

Incredibly this is what the profile of the iMac’s wired keyboard looks like:

iMac Keyboard profile

Now that is impressive design.

I could go on and do lots of other comparisons, chipset, size of hard-drive, blu-ray (this is all but completely irrelevant in Portugal as things stand), but there are plenty of sites that have reviewed both machines (or there will be soon enough) and as I said earlier, I like the Sony. But it is no match for Apple.

Unfortunately Apple don’t make TV’s, though the screens they make on their iMacs are larger and higher definition than this.

Sony’s plus point is the fact that you can plug in your antenna and other TV peripherals:

VAIO Antenna

Which makes it a nice sitting room TV screen…

I have come to find myself watching less and less TV as more of my time is taken up with my family and hobbies, so the TV side doesn’t grab me either.

The worst sales point has got to be Windows Vista.

I use both Windows and OS X at home and was a Windows only user for many years (DOS to Windows Me(that was a disastrous OS that I quickly uninstalled)), I now have XP on a partition on my Mac and don’t like using any virtual system as I feel it ruins the Mac OS to have it there. (In MY mind it feels like running an Opel Corsa Engine when my Bentley doesn’t like the road, only I can’t switch the Corsa off, whereas a separate boot switches off the Mac and lets Windows work for a while). Anyway back to point in hand…

I find OS X cleaner and easier to use. Everything is where it should be. If you change the way the machine connects to the Internet, that’s it, all you have to do. From my Windows experience, there is always some bloody checkbox that is hidden in the advanced features of IE that you have to tick or a properties box that you need to find and change something in after you’ve done what you believe to be the hard work.

I used to enjoy doing those things as I got a sense of achievement. “Aren’t I clever I know how to do x y or z and it took 45 minutes?”

Computers should not be like that for the user. You should be able to make a great piece of work and show it to someone and say look at this, I did this (and quietly add on my Mac) hoping that not too many hear and say

“But that’s easy on a Mac!”

To make this point clear I have two more quick screen grabs from the competing hardware manufacturers’ sites:

VAIO needs this?

And the Mac…


The main difference… simplicity.