May, 2009

  • Steve Clayton

    Azure Samples



    David Aiken provides a handy list of Azure Samples – something I’d asked of the product team recently.

    Bid Now Sample is an online store that reminds me we really ought to get on Azure – every time U2 or someone big goes on tour their site crashes under the weight. They must be the perfect example of a site that needs utility based cloud computing that dials up and down as needed.


    Windows Azure Management Tool is an MMC to manage your blobs and queues. Something that Andrey from tells me they’ll soon be adding to their stable of products. At the moment, they do something similar for Amazon Web Services with Cloudberry S3 Explorer Pro.


    Finally, Contoso Cycles shows the Azure Services Platform in action for a supply chain application.

  • Steve Clayton

    Will 1280x800 Get Me Back In the Netbook Market?



    Maybe. Lenovo makes delicious looking Netbooks and with the announcement that the new IdeaPad S12 has the Nvidia Ion chipset I may be back in the market. I sold my Samsung NC10 because the screen resolution was too low for what I needed on a daily basis at 1024x600…but then I saw the IdeaPad U350 which may be a more realistic replacement for my Vaio with it’s 13.3 inch display, Core2Solo or the Pentium ulv processors. Though I’m not sure why, the U350 offer up to up to 8 GB of RAM too! Now if only it had SSD storage.

    Decisions, decisions…the S12 will start at $449 and the U350 will start at $649.

  • Steve Clayton

    Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity



    Several people I know are publishing books this year and the first to cross my desk as a reviewers copy is Hugh MacLeod’s Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity. This book has hopefully prepared me well for the others as I found it’s very hard to objectively review a book that you know a friend has poured a lot of time and effort in to. Hugh had a bit of a head start in that Ignore Everybody is based of his very successful How To Be Creative manifesto but nonetheless, the book writing process is a daunting task and I admire what he and others friends have done/are doing.

    I’ve had this book for a few months as it happens and though I have a pile of other books on my desk I read the entire book the evening it arrived. I’m generally a slow reader but I finished the 150 some pages in a few hours and if you take out the pages with cartoons, there’s probably more like 90 pages of text. To get an idea you can download two PDF sample chapters.

    Kris has recently reviewed the book too and I agree with him that that it’s smart and funny. It’s also dark and that’s one thing I like about the book – you get to know Hugh a little more. For anyone who follows his blog or even more so has spent time with Hugh you know he’s a super smart guy who can be hard to fathom at times. What I think you find at times is something that is very autobiographical. On the surface, a good deal of Hugh’s life is in this book but there is also plenty under the surface too. For those who have wondered where some of his cartoons are coming from, you’ll probably find some answers in here with tales from Scotland, New York, the ad industry and blogging.

    Chapter 27 is titled “Write From The Heart” which is what you find Hugh does on his blog. I wish I had the same balls at times. My favourite chapter, the one that talked to me most is #3 “Put The Hours In” where Hugh says:


    Doing anything worthwhile takes forever. Ninety percent of what separates successful people and failed people is time, effort and stamina


    Dead right.

    it also ties in nicely to Chapter #8 “Keep Your Day Job” where Hugh explains his Sex and Cash theory and a number of others chapters deal with the notion of power and why the smart folks assume it, rather than ask for it.

    There are some parts I didn’t necessarily agree with such as Beware Of Turning Hobbies in to Jobs – though only if you take it completely literally. It’s fine to have your hobby as a job, just as long as you have more than one hobby. I imagine many golfers or racing drivers got in to their gig as their hobby and are quite satisfied.

    I think what I like most about the book though is it’s one of those books you can keep coming back to for inspiration. You can dip in to the Hugh well anytime just by opening a page and either reading a cartoon that makes the 140 characters of Twitter seem verbose or by reading one of the short chapters. It reminded me of a friend who regularly dips in to one particular book as a source of great inspiration.

    One friend who had a look at the book admired the way Hugh is able to capture (and say) what most of us already know in one small cartoon. What you get here is the the longer version of the messages in those cartoons…the explanations that inspire many of them if you like.

    In summary, what you get is a peek in to Hugh MacLeod’s world – one that is slightly mysterious, funny, smart, dark and smack you in the face obvious as soon as you read it. Isn’t that the secret to many a great book? It just reminds you what you knew already, and if you didn’t you can now say you did.

    Buy it. You won’t be disappointed. Even better, buy a few and leave them as cube grenades…that’s my plan.   


    Oh check out a couple of other reviews as I’m biased…but the good news is others like it too so far!

    ps – thanks to the nice folks at Penguin for the advance copy

  • Steve Clayton

    Gaming Update



    I’m not really much of a gamer but two things caught my eye in the last few weeks on the gaming front. The first if Nvidia’s GeForce 3D vision which was reviewed in The Sunday Times this weekend. I actually saw this first hand a few weeks back courtesy of Quentin in the EBC at Dell UK and it’s very very impressive. Basically you put on the usual 3D glasses, install some software and connect up an infrared transmitter. There are a few caveats – your graphics card has to be compatible (check NVidia’s site) and a screen that supports 120Hz – the crucial part here that The Sunday Times missed is it has to be 120Hz input capable. There are two on the market in the UK  and you can buy one of them, a 22in Samsung model, with the 3D Vision kit for £399.

    This gets you some very impressive 3D capability as it takes the 2D image being delivered by the game you’re playing (any game that is) and turns it in to 3D dimensions via two images – one for the left and one for the right eye. Both images are shown on a single screen alternately 120 times per second (hence the 120Hz requirement) and the glasses handle the delivery of the correct image to the correct eye. The result blew me away and though I’m not a gamer, if I was I’d have this kit as it works with many games already out there – NVidia lists over 200.


    Next up is something that is speculation but may see me getting my XBOX 360 out of the basement more often.  Again in the Sunday Times, Chris Gourlay speculates that a 3D camera will be added to the XBOX to give it Wii like motion sensing capability but without the controller. In theory I could kick thin air in a virtual football game. Which would be so similar to my real football ability it would be amazing. As I mentioned, this one hasn’t been confirmed so we’ll have to wait and see. For now, the XBOX remains un-tethered.

  • Steve Clayton

    Mapping out The Internet by TLD



    Hot on the heels of the Visual History of the Internet comes more Internet infoporn. This time, country codes of the world. Click for the bigger version or buy it as a 24x46 inch poster for $35 from ByteLevel

    Each Top Level Domain is sized relative to the population of the country or territory, with the exception of China and India, which were restrained by 30% to fit the layout. At the other end of the spectrum, the smallest type size used reflects those countries with fewer than 10 million residents.

    The map is a registered trademark of Byte Level Research – hat tip to @poleydee for the link

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