You probably know the service and may even be an advocate user. I have known about Tumblr for some time but until now, never really had the need to setup a Tumblr blog. With the news that Yahoo! is to purchase the platform for over $1.1 billion. I thought this was the ideal time to tip my toes into the pool. I have setup a blog. The most interesting aspect of the story, is not the large amount of money in the transaction but the promise from Yahoo! not to ‘screw things up’. The warning from history is when Yahoo! purchased my beloved FlickR and made such a hash of things, the service has never fully recovered. While FlickR may be on life support, it is not dead and there are plenty of things the current owner could do to make things better. I have faith in the service and continue to upload all my high resolution images onto the cloud for safekeeping. While most of my peers now use Facebook for their photographs, I will always use FlickR and as a fully paid up pro user, I know I am getting very good value for money.
So why join Tumblr particularly so soon after joining Instagram (and uploading a total of only three photographs to date). I suppose I am preparing myself for the near future when I finally get my hands on a Samsung Galaxy S3 and start taking some impromptu photos while out and about on my travels. Ultimately though, my plan for Tumblr is more about fun, whereas Instagram is more about recording a specific moment. While I agree that I am perhaps far too old to be using these services, there is no barrier to my forever expanding online presence. I am finding it extremely difficult to find the time to blog, which I know you have all heard for too many times in the past few years on these pages. In fact, I have about half a dozen posts sitting in draft mode, waiting to be completed and published. I am hoping that using these alternative platforms, they can complement my full fat blog.
Any advice on people to follow or tips on posting to Tumblr would be greatly recived. You can contact me via Twitter my handle is @tegala.
When I hear a song I do not know, I have to quickly identify it. For a while, when my HTC Desire was brand spanking new (late 2010) I had Shazam installed and would use it at every available opportunity. However, over two years later, my Desire lacks the memory space to hold any useful apps, so I have Shazam installed on my Nexus 7, not the most mobile of devices but it does work perfectly – most of the time.
Let me take you back five weeks, to Friday 25th January. My colleague Harps offered me a lift home in his beloved white BMW 330d cabriolet. (Surprisingly this was the first ever time he was giving me a lift home, even though we have worked together for almost exactly a year!) The journey started off with Luda (who else!) but Harps was switching to various songs on his MP3 CD. It then switched to an Unknown Artist – Unknown Track (I of course, would never have such an epic fail on my audio collection, all my ID3 tags (v1) are fully compiled). The song was instantly catchy and I asked Harps to name the artist, when he could not, so I switched on my tablet and Shazam’d (is that even the adjective?). This song would be the soundtrack to not just my weekend but the rest of the month! I downloaded the song from the internet and then had it burnt onto CD for a drive to Oxford (via Aylesbury on Sunday afternoon). The song, which is of the RnB persuasion rather than HipHop, is called Who Booty (Remix) by John Hart featuring French Montana.
Glee has been a mixed bag of late, at times becoming a parody of itself in this it’s fourth season. However, in places the quality has improved, as the the new characters develop and make bonds with each other. Episode eleven, “Sadie Hawkins” we had very low expectations for, but it actually proved to be quite a good visit to Ohio, not just for bringing in some interesting movement to the plot but also some fantastic songs! The highlight for myself was the cover of TLCs 1999 comeback hit “No Scrubs”. However for my dearest wife, it was the cover of the much more recent Bruno Mars – Locked Out Of Heaven (even if some of the lyrics are risqué for a family friend television show). Straight after the girls performance, a song kicks in on the dance-floor but apart from a few patchy lyrics, there was no way for me to identify the song. The audio volume is just far too low and with characters (Kitty and Puckerman) talking there was no chance of me identifying the song. I noted down a few lyrics after listening a few times and then went over to Google. My searches were rather fruitless but I was not the only person whom had noted the song and wanted to know who the artist was. My first port of call was TV.com, registering and leaving the question as a comment. I had little response, so a few days later I tried entering the few lyrics I could make out into Google and sure enough was taken to a Glee forum. Sure enough, I was not the only person looking for this unidentified song, but so far the trail had run suddenly from hot to cold, as all the suggested songs were not the song in question. We were left thinking that this was an unreleased song, which had been produced specifically for the show. I had lost hope of ever finding out the artist and track name. This was until Thursday morning, when I happened to go back to the forum to check if there had been any updates. There had and the answer to the question that had been on my mind for the past few weeks was finally there on the web page. The artist was Rae, the song was 305 and it featured, in a slightly different mix on the Hopsoundtrack. Mystery solved.
It does make me think, how much harder life was before the interweb. How did we ever get the answer to more deep and meaningful questions, rather than some random song played within the context of a high school prom on a television show. Back in June 2005, I had a similar problem with a song I heard on my portable DAB radio. It did not take me that long to find that song, as I actually had the title of the track from the chorus. Do you not just love this connected, always on world we live in, with the possibility of so much at our fingertips? I sure do!
You would class “305″ or is it “The 305″, as bubble gum pop, whereas I prefer to use the term pure pop! The lyrics and overall production remind me of the opening track from the Resse Witherspoon movie, Legally Blonde. The track which plays during the opening credits is Perfect Day by Hoku. The 305 even includes the lyrics, “It’s a perfect day” in reference to the older song by Hoku – pure coincidence perhaps! It is almost seven years ago since I was naming checking this romantic comedy, the song and even quoting the lyrics on my blog!
Knowing my history with computers and data, I made the decision in 2007 to invest in an external drive. This was not an off the shelf consumer device of course, I purchased a 320gb drive from eBuyer and IDE to USB caddy from eBay. Now perhaps I should have had hindsight to future proof this purchase by obtaining an SATA drive instead of the old school IDE but that was not to be a major part of my decision-making process. It was the cost, this was the biggest capacity I could afford at the time. I knew it was a decision only my future self would appreciate. I was talking to Teg from 2013 but unbeknown to me (of 2007), I would be married, living in Slough and working for the biggest software manufacturer services and devices company in the world.
Now having a server, with mirrored drive configuration, did negate the need for a backup drive but I preferred to be safe rather than sorry. I copied all my music and videos and pretty much everything else onto this drive up to the end of 2008. Dagobah arrived in July 2009, so the backup drive was forgotten at my parents place in High Wycombe. My Dad had wanted to place the drive and caddy in the garage, but I had confirmed, that it needed to remain at an ambient room temperature although I’m sure modern drives can last at low temperatures of an English winter. I just did not want to take the risk, because I knew that one day I would need that drive again.
With all the problems I have had with my server of late (it failed again in early January and it took me almost a month to get it back online, with help courtesy of Myles G and a new two terabyte hard drive courtesy of eBuyer.com.) I am still glad many things have been burnt to DVD. My backup regime has been somewhat fragmented but at least I have a backup regime, which is perhaps good in itself. I am able to ‘jump back’ to music videos and TV shows from 2007-8 but the limitations of 4.7GB of data and of course, lack of precious time mean that I only have so much data archived away. This was were the large backup drive came into it’s element. However, in December when I tried to see if I could access the data off it, the caddy failed to work. I needed to buy a replacement but looked for an IDE/SATA hybrid model from eBay. This arrived a few weeks ago but it was not until my server was fully functioning at the beginning of the month, was I able to grab my old drive from High Wycombe and set it all up. I was back baby!
If I could speak to my old self from 2007, I would thank him for having the courage to use not one but two backup mediums. Remember this was a time in my life, when I recorded a great deal of television (albeit standard definition) onto my hard drive. I recall one time in November 2007, catching Beyoncé perform my favourite song from B-Day on Strictly Come Dancing and rushing to from the lounge to my computer to record the segment. Any material over 4.7GB or things I could not categorise into a selection for a DVD burn, remained on the drive. I am so happy I made this decision to copy all my music and video content to an external drive. I now only have a small gap of data missing (the time between 2009 and 2012). The great beauty with digital content though, is apart from some unique and rare features I recorded from the television, most are available to download again or ready to stream from YouTube, if your heart so desires. However, with my bandwidth cap every month, I always prefer the 1080p (full high-definition) downloaded file, which I can stream to multiple devices around the home.
We are perhaps the first generation (of many) whom will have our memories stored electronically in digital ones and zeros and not physical photo albums. We just need to make sure we think about duplicating the effort. One backup will never be enough!
While I joined the Twitter service early (as an early adopter of most technologies) in 2008, it had only been running for a few short years up to that point, I did not fully engage with the service until perhaps a year to eighteen months later. Now, I cannot be separated from the micro-blogging service. Particularly as it gives me the outlet to blog in substitute to more detailed posts, which of course land on this site.
Let me give three examples of the power of social media in the past month. Following on from my post on Christmas Day. Tom Cruise (well a member of his team), tweeted back the following which made not just my Christmas, but bought the year 2012 to a perfect close!
Have you seen Tropic Thunder? If not, it is a movie you need to see to understand the tedious link between Tom Cruise and rapper Ludacris. Perhaps you caught the MTV Movie Awards in 2010. Tom Cruise is infamous movie mogul Les Grossman and he loves to dance to Get Back, even joined on stage by Jennifer Lopez. In any case, I am also a big fan of the rapper and movie star, and he is set to appear for the fifth time in the sixth instalment of the Fast & Furious franchise in May. Now I am using Instagram on my tablet, I am keen to find celebrities I like to follow, so I thought I would just put a tweet out there to find out what Luda’s username was on the photo sharing site. To my disbelief, on the bus home, I put on my tablet and tried to connect to the on-board wireless (resorting to tethering to my HTC Desire in the end) and low and behold, the main man had tweeting me back! It was only around 4:30pm on Thursday but he made my weekend.
After listening to Amnesia practically all week (even during the course of the working day at my desk), I was keen to find out more about the beautiful Canadian singer, Rosette. So sure enough, I found her official site and began to follow her on Twitter. Within minutes of sending her a tweet yesterday evening, she responded with only three words but they meant so much to me. I shall be watching her career very closely this year, right I feel I should go and buy the single from Spinning Records.
Sharing a laptop with my other half is not that bad actually, even as a new age internet geek, I have much better self control to regulate my time online than say ten to fifteen years ago. Plus, I always have my mobile, if there was something urgent I needed to check on Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo! Mail. However, the device is still very much consumption rather than input. You quite quickly hit limits then I need to use the laptop and there is no other option. Transferring an mp3 (or FLAC) file to my music player still requires the laptop but I now have the in-between zone of my Nexus 7 tablet. To say it has changed my life would be an understatement. It has changed everything!
Let me start with a rather basic morning ritual. I read the Metro paper every week day morning, collecting a paper copy at Slough station before I board my train. Now, I just download the latest edition onto my tablet in the morning during breakfast and read at my leisure on the train. To be fair, there are only three sections I tend to read (Quote Of The Day, The Green Room and The Guilty Pleasures) before jumping to the Sports section and read the latest about Arsenal and transfer gossip. Now I no longer have to worry about the paper copy, I have the app which I update every morning.
I have installed the Glimmr app, which links to my FlickR account, so I can show people all of my images (over 6,000 now) that are in the cloud. Absolutely brings the tablet into a new league. Particularly when there are photos that I do not want to display on my work monitor as an example, I can show friends and colleagues on my seven inch screen.
I have finally joined Instagram by downloading the app. I have had an account for many months, wanting to reserve the account “tegala” to ensure nobody took it. Although at the time I setup my account I was hoping to switch to Galaxy SIII. I consider the Nexus 7 as my treat before I finally switch to the SIII later in the year. Most likely once the SIV is released in May. However I do then have a dilemma, what photographs to upload to Instagram. I use FlickR for all my photographs, but I feel I will use Instagram for mobile photographs in the future. Surely somebody will come up with a link between the two, so they can work together.
Finally I need to mention a fantastic UK resource run by Adam. I found it while looking for advice on screen protectors. (Yes I know I have bought a pack of five and still not applied any them to my beautiful tablet (preferring instead to just clean the screen every other day!) The tweeter account is over at @Nexus7UKfans and the fantastic website over at Google Nexus 7 UK Fans.
I have been in the market for at tablet computer for some time but have been waiting for my perfect moment to invest. However the Gods were consipring against me just before Christmas, with every high street (and most online) retailers out of stock of the Nexus 7. It was going to take me a while to get my hands on the grey box.
On Saturday I had called the John Lewis store in my hometown of High Wycombe and got verbal confirmation of a delivery today. I therefore made sure I was at the store promptly at 9:30am to pick up the item. The dilemma unfortunately for me was that the item was out of stock on the JL website and I could not reserve over the phone with the item not available on the shop floor. Never knowingly undersold apparently. While the sales assistant in Audio & Visual called local stores (Watford is not exactly local but I was willing to drive there on a tablet mission impossible!) I called my wife to let her know about a great offer on a Freesat recorder. It was at this point in the conversation she informed me she had reserved the Nexus 7 at Argos in South Ruislip. I had my next destination for the Google Navigation on my aging HTC Desire.
Item remains boxed until I secure delivery of screen protector and case. The wait therefore continues but at least the grey box is in my flat and not with Yodel for delivery or sitting in some warehouse in Mongolia.
Sometimes when it comes to technology I am actually rather foolish. Foolish is perhaps not the right adjective. I need something stronger from my limited vocabulary. Senseless would perhaps be the best word to use. The saying goes if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Sometimes I can just not help myself. My trusty server, Dagobah (all network attached devices on my home network are named after the science fiction opera) has been delivering me excellent service for the past three years. I even managed a full Ubuntu software upgrade on my own, with no assistance from superhero, MightyMouse. My server is headless and I login using Putty, which I can even do from my trusty HTC Desire. For the past few months I had the regular nag message that an update was available to download. I ignored this to begin with but something triggered in me the need to run the upgrade. What was the worse that could happen? Surely I could run an update during a Saturday evening, from my bed.
Firstly I had not anticipated so many screens and attended options but the ultimate result was a dead server. I had left it downloading packages and applying updates overnight. However, after discussion briefly with Hussein over Twitter that my data was safe (a RAID Type I) mirror had been in place which effectively means that each file has copies placed on two different independent drives. I rested easy but the bigger challengers were to come.
My server is headless. To those non geeks out there (99% of my audience) this means there is no screen attached to my box. Generally not an issue if you are going to have web based utilities and login in via a secure shell. However, when things go wrong and you cannot login and web services will not boot up, you need need to know what is happening. I had two options. Bring over a mouse, keyboard and monitor from my parents or just like Mohammed and the Mountain, take the server to my parents to fix there. I opted for the safer option of taking the box away.
I am a relative newbie to the Linux operating system, having been a lover of Microsoft and Windows all my life (it started with DOS back over twenty years ago). (Funny how things pan out!). However I was confident that with the power of Bing Google, I would find the answers I needed and at the very least get my data back. At first I did. I used a liveCD to boot up Ubuntu environment and attempt to mount the RAID then realised I was way out of my depth. However, eventually I was able to access my data and should have been able to rescue the important files. I needed to call for some further assistance. I decided to call on some work colleagues. Who they were, even they didn’t know at that moment in time!
We have a mailing list at work for all things social. I joined soon after I started working at the software manufacturer I mean service and devices company. I have even posted a mail from the group on my blog back in February. I have used the list to offer my hard drive caddy to those people in need of recovering data and advice on web hosting and mp3 players. I now had to call on them for help with my server.
Did I tell you that I work for Microsoft? Some people are still shocked when they find out I work for a global household name. Honestly it makes a big difference when the company you work for actually advertises on TV. Even my relatives in India know the company by name (and reputation). On Wednesday 3rd October, I sent out a mail on MS Social asking for help from the mailing list. Two people responded, one of whom was Myles Grindon, an intern. He was to be my saviour, I just did not know it yet.
He contacted me via Lync (our internal IM client) and also e-mail before then providing me with help via G-Mail. While not to bore you with the technical details, I had gained access to my data but had no ability to transfer it anywhere. Each time, I had everything setup in my parent’s lounge. Therefore I also had limited time at the weekend to try and get everything done. My plan was to get remote access sorted, so I could at least complete the setup in Slough. In the end, it took several trips before everything was sorted out and I even brought home the monitor, keyboard and mouse, to give my server a “head”. Myles provided fantastic support but in the end, there was little chance of me recovering my system in Ubuntu, so therefore he offered to take my hard drive and caddy, recover what he could. (Mirror RAIDs are difficult things to understand let alone fiddle with). Over a weekend, he was able to recover the photos which were my main source of angst in this whole affair. TV shows, music videos and movies can all be obtained again. He recovered what he could and then I had to begin the process of rebuilding Dagobah but this time with a stable release of Debian. Phase two of the project began in earnest over the past few weeks.
Myles provided excellent documentation on the steps I needed to do to complete the installation. Once I had secure remote login via my laptop (or mobile phone) sorted I could complete the installation at home. The only main stumbling block was network access, which in Linux itself is a difficult subject matter to learn and implement. These mails covered everything extremely well and finally on Sunday evening, I had remote access to my data. My Humax PVR could see Dagobah, so I could start watching 21 Guns by Green Day. However, there was a note against one of the screens on my TV (do not delete). You would think after everything I had been through I would understand not to create a new share (using the built in settings) and delete the old one. No, all the data on my server (well the shared directory at least). Had I just lost all my data once again?
The main thing is that I have my beloved server back and can now dance around the lounge watching and listening to my beloved music videos and episodes of Glee. What has changed since last time? Well I was using the internal bit torrent client on my Humax but was running out of space (only 500gb). Plus nothing was ever organised the way I wanted it to be. Now, I was back in control. Have I seen this week’s episode of The Big Bang Theory.
People are often surprised when I explain that I do not own a games console and therefore no longer play any form of video games. Their expectations of me fail to meet the reality and I suppose, being a geek I should have some gaming fetish of some kind. I do not. The days of spending hours, days if not whole weekends glued to a computer game for purely recreational purposes are well behind me. For the record, I was an avid player of Championship Manager. Let me clarify avid, I edited the player database, created myself as a player and took Arsenal on an unbeaten League run, was offered the England job and went on to win the European Championship in 2000 (playing in 1998) with myself scoring one of the four winning goals. There was a time in the mid to late nineties when I flirted with FIFA and shoot em ups, concluding with Return To Castle Wolfenstein in early 2001. The only notable resurgence was during my first year at University when I was given the original GTA to play. Many hours wasted on what at the time was a very simple game but highly addictive.
Personally I am glad those days are behind me and even if I wanted to play games now I would be struggle to find the time in the diary. Plus I know you schedule an hour, before you even glimpse at your watch or the clock, three hours have passed by. In addition to this, is the threat (although she refers to it as a promise) from my beautiful wife that she would rip the games console from the wall and throw it out the window, if she was ever to find me playing video games. (An Xbox 360 is unlikely to survive a four storey drop).
During Britain’s Got Talent last weekend, I watched an advert, which I thought could seriously tempt be back into gamer mode. (Although let the record show I was rarely any good!) We tend to watch Saturday night (and the majority of our television in fact) on a delay. The actual phrase I am well inform from those lovely people at Hummy TV forums is called ‘chase play’. On this occasion it was due to The Voice UK overlapping with the ITV show but in general we prefer to be able to fast forward through the ad breaks. Generally I rarely pay attention to the adverts, even though this is the most expensive slot of the week for advertisers. I stopped and reversed the recording to watch the official Microsoft advert for Stars Wars Kinect. Although this one below is much better!
I want one of those, particularly the limited edition R2D2 console. However I found the price (one morning this week in the Metro) at a staggering £350 which is just too expensive when the standard console is down to just over the one hundred pound mark. Even when you factor in the cost of Kinect and the Star Wars games, you realise how much of the fee must go down to the licence from LucasFilm. Nevertheless, the true power of Kinect is starting to be harnessed. I just love the idea of waving my hands around in my living room like a real Jedi!
The marketing department were well and truly in force at the office this morning and even though I did not get a chance to go and get a photograph with the Stormtroopers myself, Obi-Wan “Ben” Kenobi (actually Ben from IT but you get the Star Wars reference I’m sure!) was able to upload a selection of images to SkyDrive.