Category Archives: Geek

Call It A Comeback

…and we’re back.

A couple of days late but I am relaunching my tech blog for 2015. This blog used to be under the Down Under Geek domain but I’ve decided to use an old name and brand for the relaunch – see more in About.

For the next few weeks its going to hopefully be daily postings just to get into a rhythm of what this blog will really be about. I already have some ideas but I’m guessing that will evolve.

New personal blog for MichaelQ

Very happy to launch this week my new personal blog.

I’ve had the blog for many years and never really been sure what to do with it. Do I use it for posts about my family, or use it as a general blog for anything I want to go on about?

Obviously there is different audiences for both – direct family members just want to hear about Eliza, and not necessarily about the latest widget. Other friends might want to see what I am interested in – but could care less about what Eliza did last night that was sooooo funny. I know – bloody “Breeders”.

So during my work-break over Xmas 2009, I decided to split things up – the bleeding obvious after years of indecision. My old blog – will be particularly directed at friends and family who just want to keep up with what myself, Fiona, Eliza and Jhett are up to. This new blog – will be my “personal” daily blog for whatever stuff happens to come along. I’ve also set up Down Under Geek as my tech blog – it’s been around for a while too but hopefully I’ll be using it a bit more in 2010. We’ll see.

I’ve learnt a lot about WordPress over the last 7-10 days. Looked at probably 100+ designs, narrowed that down to 30-40 to try out before eventually ending up with 2-3 designs I really liked for this site. This design was the first one I tried – and the first one I discard initially. But having experimented with a couple of others over the week I came back to this one for its style and simplicity.  I’ll have to do one of those “Top 20 Plugins for your WordPress Blog” posts soon – got some nice ones helping me out here.

This blog will be a combination of “point to” other posts I find interesting, plus some of my own thoughts and ideas. Hope you can sign up for the ride.

Matt Cutts: Giving up Twitter for three more weeks

I saw Matt posting about giving up Twitter for a week last week, and thought it was a good idea.  I’ve actually been off it (and Facebook) myself since last Sunday.

While I haven’t probably gotten as much done as Matt, I have taken this week to get 5 WordPress blogs (including this one) either updated / refreshed or started from scratch (including this one).

I’ve missed the Twitter banter a bit – but not as much as you might think.  I really missed my “Twitter Brains Trust” when I needed help with things. But a few people have been more than helpful via email – mind you I only had contact with many of these people because of my Twitter history.

I like some of Matt’s suggestions for more 30 day challenges – might approach 2010 with some more myself.

Dell previews 5-inch tablet concept akin to large iPod touch (nee iPad)

AppleInsider | Dell previews 5-inch tablet concept akin to large iPod touch.

This looks pretty nice.

Makes me wonder why companies like Dell etc have waited till now to release a Tablet device?

The hype around the Apple Tablet has been huge over the last year or 2 – why wait till supposedly 2 weeks before its announcement to release their own?


Originally posted:

Site install update.

So far so good.

Been pretty happy with the progress so far. Very happy to find a theme that easily lets me add site URLs in a Nav Bar across the top of the site.  For what I want this site to be – a hub or many other sites, it’s ideal.

Been going through a lot of my old plugins that I had saved from other sites. Most of them didn’t make it to this one. Instead I have been going through several articles written by people smarter than me about Top 10 Plugins for WordPress, First 10 things to do with a WP blog etc. I’ve gone thru half a dozen or so of these and picked the best bits from each one.  I’ve now got a nice core of around 20 plugins – a few related to SEO which I haven’t turned on yet but I will.

I think I will probably end up writing my own Top 20 WP ideas – once I go thru a few more installs.

Main problem I have been having is getting Feedburner to work. Well feedburner works fine, but getting WP to deal with it properly seems to be a bigger pain than expected. Google seems to have fucked up quite a few links that would have been handy – it’s redirected them to a generic Google Groups page which imo is probably the most useless thing Google offers.

Yes I said typed fuck. Get over it.

Hello world!

Welcome to my new website.

I have decided to make my old site more or less for “family type” news. The idea is I can rabbit on about any kind of shit here, and family and friends can visit the other site if they just want to find out whats happening with Eliza.

This one is a bit of a work in progress – still trying to work out where everything fits and if this is the right WP theme to go with. The usual procrastination crap.

The plan is to have 4 blogs up by the end of the week at the latest, and then actually use them. At least one 2009 New Years Resolution might have a chance of getting a tick!

My New Broadband – NCable Wireless Broadband

As you may know I moved into a new house about a month ago – can’t believe its only a month – feels like 2 or 3 months !

Part of the “deal” with the the new house was that we probably wouldn’t have broadband access here for at least 6-8 weeks. Around September / October. Telstra had to upgrade the local RIM – the usual blah blah story as to why you can’t get decent internet access.

But we knew that coming in and I was reasonable happy to put up with Dial-Up for a month or so, plus going around to my parents place once a week or so to use Dad’s internet to move some big files around. The house was a great deal – a bit of a bargain in my opinion – so it was worth a bit of pain.

To be honest – Dial-Up wasn’t the nightmare I imagined. Sure I wasn’t going to be downloading 10 podcasts every day or surfing sites all day. But for general email and basic surfing it wasn’t too bad.

OK it still sucked but I wasn’t completely offline.

As I was telling all of my contacts about the change of address, phone number etc – I was contacted by Neighborhood Cable – an Australian company with an American name. NCable are a Victorian regional Pay TV / Internet company. They are in Mildura, Ballarat and Geelong. Unlike most ISP’s they install their own infrastructure and cabling – rather than running off Telstra’s backbone.

Even though they also don’t have their cable running down my street – they have a new service called Wireless Cable Broadband. They have a transmitter in town on the water tower – click for webcam view which gives them about 25km of range. At my place I have an antenna on my roof that runs down into a modem in my office – and from there to my wireless router etc. From there its business as usual in setting up the internet etc.

So I know have broadband where otherwise I wouldn’t have. And even better – its FASTER. Best ADSL speed I can get here is 1500/256. It will be a long time before we get ADSL 2/2+ in a country town like Mildura. So far the speeds I have been getting have been the equivalent of 3500/1200 !! And I’ve even complained as I was told to expect download speeds around 5000 !!

And because I am in a country regional area with no access to ADSL broadband – I got full subsidy from the Australian Government’s HIBIS program. The whole install cost me nothing !! Yai !!

So far the quality has been excellent. No problems at all. The increased upload speed already has made a huge difference to my productivity. Instead of queuing files to upload overnight – I can do them during the day while preparing the sites. 100Mb used to take an hour on 1500/256. Now its like 10 mins. That makes a huge difference to my planning.

Really happy with it all so far. Will keep you up to date on my experiences as we go.

RSS vs WebFeed ?

Just wanted to toss in my 2 cents on the whole RSS vs Web Feed issue.

A brief summary: RSS (really simple syndication) lets you subscribe to websites, podcasts and other things. Once you have worked out how to use it your internet browsing is changed forever. Instead of having to go back to a website to see if its changed, your subscription service sends you the latest news and headlines.

There is an RSS feed for this site – its the orange icon on the bottom right hand corner of the browser. If you have an RSS agregator or reader, you put the link into it and you started getting updates of the site when I make them. You don’t have to give me any information like an email address to subscribe to a newsletter. You come and go as you please.

Sounds great doesn’t it? Microsoft thinks so too and the are incorporating RSS into the next version of Windows – Vista – formerly known as longhorn. It’s due out late next year. Probably. But Microsoft are planning on putting RSS into Vista in a big way – especially Internet Explorer 7.

However Microsoft want to call it Web Feeds – not RSS. They feel RSS is a bit techy and complicated to explain. Web Feed sounds simple and easy enough. Of course this is upsetting a lot of people who claim Microsoft are trying to reinvent RSS in their own image. Much like they tried to do with html, css, media files, document files and pretty much anything else.

I actually like the term Web Feed. It makes it easier to explain to someone what it is. RSS just sounds weird and unfriendly. I think once you know what it is – rather than what it stands for – its a good name for it. But the 30 second conversation of introducing it to someone and explaining what it does – I’ve just had too many of those in my life of being a geek. Why can’t we find a simpler way of describing things?

Eventually I think the term Web Feed will slowly become more accepted. We will probably still use the RSS / XML buttons – but know them as Web Feed buttons.

Mighty Mouse a glimpse of 5th Generation Video iPods ?

Apple have finally released a mouse with multiple buttons – the Mighty Mouse. But is this mouse a glimpse of what might be around the corner for 5G video iPods?

The new Mighty Mouse (love the name) appears to look like a standard Apple Mouse with a small nipple on it. However that “nipple” is in fact a mini track ball that lets the user scroll vertically, horizontally – in fact 360 degrees.

Instead of a distinctive left and right mouse button, the front of the mouse looks solid. However it can detect if the left or right side of the mouse is being pressed.

The Mighty Mouse has a tiny tail. As usual for Apple – Mighty Mouse has a fairly short USB cord. But with Apple only just recently adding Bluetooth (and wireless) to all of its iBooks and Mac Mini’s – wouldn’t it make sense to have a Bluetooth mouse? I guess that’s next month.

Reviews of the mouse have been a bit mixed. I have yet to try one but many reports are saying its a little awkward to use – you must lift your left finger to use the right click. The “Bar Of Soap” look and feel might seem nice – but using it is just not as nice as an “ergonomic” mouse.

Video iPod Interface ?

However I am wondering if the Mighty Mouse is a sign of a new interface for the rumoured 5th Generation of iPods?

Steve Jobs (the person who only recently said you only need one button on a mouse) has said he isn’t convinced people will want to watch videos on a small screen like the iPod. I agree – it needs to be a bigger screen. Not something as big as the Sony PSP as that would sacrifice convenience. A landscape screen for watching videos would make sense.

Moving to a larger screen and keeping the same form factor obviously means a redesign of the touch wheel. The current touch wheel is slightly bigger than the actual screen. Some have even speculated it might be a touch screen interface. That would be nice – perhaps even a segue for an Apple based PDA returning to the market?

But wouldn’t this new “nipple” trackball also be great for a minimal interface when coupled with a couple of buttons? You could have a decent size screen on the current iPod if you just get ride of the scroll wheel. Mighty Mouses’ trackball might be the key.