Archive for September, 2009

QOTD: Norm Papernick

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Norm Papernick: “Those who can laugh without cause have either found the true meaning of happiness or have gone stark raving mad.”

(Via Quotes of the Day.)

Automate getting your RSS fix

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4/5

4/5

Over time I’ve messed around with a number of OS X applications that automate the finding and downloading of content that I subscribe to with RSS.

Some of the applications that I have been using have not been updated in a long time and they have begun to become more and more unreliable.

Fortunately I recently came across “Automatic”:

The answer to your RSS prayers

The answer to your RSS prayers

Automatic allows you to set up subscriptions for virtually any content linked in RSS feeds: podcasts, videocasts, torrentcasts… Rule of thumb: if it ends in ‘-cast’, you can get it with Automatic.

Once set up, there’s nothing else to do but sit back and wait. Automatic will fetch and deliver the latest content for your subscriptions right to your download folder*, so all that’s left for you is to find some time to enjoy it!

For example, just imagine you wanted to ensure that you were always up to date with your favorite TV show. For this example, we’ll assume that “The Big Bang Theory”is the show in question.

Hit the best TV Show RSS feed, select “The Big Bang Theory” from the drop down list, click the “Get public feed” button and copy the URL that it spits back at you.

Show RSS

Show RSS

Open up Automatic (it lives in your System Preferences).

System Preferences

System Preferences

Click on the “Subscriptions” tab at the top and the on the “+” button to add a new subscription.

Add a feed

Add a feed

Click the “+” button again on the next screen to add a feed. Paste the URL into the top field and Automatic does the rest.

Automatic feed

Automatic feed

In this case I’ve made use of a feed that will only return episodes for this show. You can obviously use a general feed and then use the filter function to view only the items you want.

Play with it for a few minutes and you’ll get the idea. Pretty simple stuff really.

Note: This show used as an example only. Make sure you only use this only to download content that you have rights to. Otherwise you will probably get into trouble.

QOTD: Alan Corenk

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Alan Corenk: “‘Television is more interesting than people. If it were not, we would have people standing in the corners of our rooms.'”

(Via Quotes of the Day.)

The Core Group continues to screw South Africa

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I wanted to post this a week ago, but as I had bought the new iPod nano as a gift for a loved one, I didn’t want to spoil the surprise.

About two weeks ago I started hunting for a way to get the new iPod nano delivered to my door before the 23rd of September. I tried to convince Amazon to deliver to SA, I tried BH photovideo as well as local some local stores like wantitall and have2have. Although wantitall and have2have could get them for me, they couldn’t guarantee that it would arrive in time. They also weren’t exactly cheap.

The bad boy in question

The bad boy in question

Then I saw an article on mybroadband that mentioned that the iStore in Sandton had them in stock. I thought I’d take a chance and give the iStore in the V&A Waterfront a call to see if they had any demo models. If they did have I’d see if I could convince them to sell me one. I gave them a call and they informed that they in fact had a few in stock and that I could come and pick one up immediately. No coercion required.

I asked them to keep me one and said I’d be there before closing to come and pick it up. As soon as I was off the phone with them I gave Digicape a call to see if they also had any in stock. Whenever possible I try not to support The Core Group directly, so if I was able to give the business to Digicape I would.

I chatted the sales guy at Digicape and he informed that they would only have stock in about 6 weeks and insisted that no-one in South Africa had any stock yet. I informed him that I was on my way to fetch one at the iStore. After we tussled on whether or not it was in fact the 5th generation iPod nano he conceded and informed me that he was about to go and kick up a real stink within Digicape and The Core Group.

In this case I was grateful that the iStore had them in stock, but I am total agreement that it is total bulls@$%t that the iStore has them and no-one else has them.

I’m still feeling a little nauseous about spending money at the iStore, but I’m sure the Apple gods will forgive me.

Xbox Live finally coming to South Africa ?

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This morning while I was listening to one of my weekly podcasts (ZA Tech Show Episode 80) and yawning through the Halo: ODST review, Simon Dingle makes reference to John at M$ SA about the imminent release of Xbox Live locally.

xbox-live.jpg

Now I know we’ve heard this before, but something about this conversation gives me hope that something really is about to happen.

I hope the guys over at ZA Tech don’t mind but I’ve cropped their audio clip down to the relevant part to make it easy for you to listen to:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Could we finally be done with buying M$ points online from 3rd party sites and from having to set up VPN’s to download 18+ content (thanks for that Germany, by the way)…

Come on M$ ! You can do eeet !

Better than WiFi: Ethernet over power

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(8/10)

Yip, you read that correctly. Ethernet over power, not power over Ethernet.

For years I’ve been having performance and coverage issues with WiFi at home. Most of the kit I have is pretty good quality stuff (Apple and Netgear mostly), but for applications like streaming video I just never seemed to be able to just turn my devices on and then sit back and relax. I always had to fiddle with something here or reconfigure something there. Eventually I just got sick of it and either gave up or ran a length of CAT-5 to temporarily solve the problem. Not pretty but it got the job done most of the time. I yearned for a sexier long term solution and no matter what I did, WiFi just didn’t cut it.

I then stumbled upon “powerline” technology, pretty much by accident, and thought that it sounded too good to be true. After reading a number of online reviews I picked myself a pair of these Netgear Powerline HD babies:

3983-IMG8884s.jpg
From the front.
NetGear+Powerline+HD+(200+MBit+s)-194958.jpg
From the side.

Essentially you plug these units directly into a power outlet. One near where you want tp get from, the other where you want to get to. The devices then connect to each other over your homes existing power cabling delivering a cool 108Mbps (with QoS if you choose).

No more need to run that CAT-5 between two impossible parts of your home. The electrician that originally wired up your house already did all the hard work.

These devices have been livesavers for me and you can run up to 12 in the same home.

Clean. Easy. Reliable. Just the way I like it.

Side scrollers making a comeback ?

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(10/10)

A mate of mine told me how awesome Shadow Complex was one night while we were defending the Earth from a locust horde invasion. I asked him what it was all about and he basically told me that it was based on the idea of the old 2D side scrollers we enjoyed in our youth, but that this was actually pretty awesome. I dismissed his comments and steadied my shotgun for another headshot.

shadow_complex.png

A few days later I thought I’d see what he was on about. Well, let me tell you. It was almost the best 1200 M$ points I’ve ever spent.

The game is almost as addictive as Trials HD.

The game isn’t particularly difficult or particularly long, but while you are playing it you seem to be transported back to a time when you wished you had one more 20c piece to stick in the Elevator Action arcade machine.

Except that this is even better. I really thought that I’d get bored of a side scroller very quickly, but getting XP, collecting power-ups and adding to the most awesome suit of armour ever created results in hours in front of your 360 with little frustration over some lame puzzle or impossible boss that feature in so many games.

Donwload it. Play it. Love it.

Click-to-dial from the Apple address book

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I’ve been using an IP softphone on my Mac for some time, but there has been no integration between the softphone and the Apple address book. It wasn’t the biggest issue for me, but I became really tired of copying the numbers I looked up and pasting them into the softphone to be able to dial.

After trolling the interweb yesterday and finding a few address book plug-in scripts (that no longer work with Snow Leopard), I came across Dialectic from JN Software.

dialectic_icon_w_reflection.png

It works with pretty much every softphone and web-based VoIP service I’ve come across. You can customize dialing rules based on the type of call (local, long distance, international etc etc) as well as your location.

There is actually a lot more power under the hood when you consider that it can hook into Apple Scripts as well.

While I was playing with the preferences, one setup that I thought would be particularly useful was to have all my in country calls route via my softphone and all my international calls route out via Skype, which is easily done with Dialectic. Nice work.

It looks slick and will only cost you $25 if you decide to keep using it after your trial period expires.

Get it.

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