Friday, December 31, 2004

Regent Street lights

Peter took some photos of the Regent Street lights the other day. Pretty.

Regent Street lights
Regent Street lights

Hamleys toy store is on Regent Street. This is where we saw CAT-opoly.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

CAT-opoly

Peter gave me the most awesome board game ever – CAT-opoly!

Cat-opoly board game

It’s Monopoly, but they’re cats. Instead of buying properties, you adopt different breeds of cats, and instead of buying utilities, you buy milk and mice. I love this game!

Jasmine getting excited by the Cat-opoly board game Peter gave her for Christmas

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Tea shops in London

I love tea. I had an awesome loose leaf tea collection in Australia and now I need to re-build the collection in London.

Over the Christmas period I started checking out the tea options in London. First I visited The Tea Shop in Covent Garden, where I bought some blood orange black tea. Then I visited Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly, where I bought some blackcurrant black tea. Mmmm.

I’m also on the look out for a good teapot. I had two great Avanti teapots in Australia. I really like them, so I’m after something similar.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Friday, December 24, 2004

Da Vinci Code tours

It's not just Dan Brown who's cashing in on the success of his latest novel, The Da Vinci Code. Completely obsessed fans with some spare cash can now take organised tours of various locations in the books. Here are a few options.

  • 7-day Da Vinci Code tour with accommodation at the Chateau de Villette (one of the locations in the book). Cost: $70,000 for a party of 12.
  • 7-hour guided tour of London Da Vinci Code sites. Cost: about $590.
  • 3-hour guided tour of London Da Vinci Code sites. Cost: about $415.

BTW, I read about these tours on an Australian news website, so I assume these figures are in $AUD. If I was sufficiently interested in the tours I would have checked, but I'm not.

Christmas Goth Weather Pixie

A little Christmas tree appeared with Goth Pixie during December! Pretty. And she had a pumpkin in October. Mmmm, pumpkinny goodness!

Christmas Goth Weather Pixie


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Setting up Fastmail on a WM2003SE PPC using IMAP

I had a little trouble working out how to set-up my Fastmail email account on my new iPAQ hx4705 (running WM2003SE). I've now got it working so I thought I document the process so (i) I can refer back to it later if I forget, and (ii) I can maybe help others who've had the same problems.

Setting up Fastmail on the hx4705

  1. Make sure your iPAQ is online (whether this be via your laptop using the docking station, wirelessly using WiFi or some other means).

  2. Open the Inbox.

  3. Go to the Accounts menu at the bottom of the screen and select New Account.

  4. The Email Setup (1/5) screen will appear. Enter your full email address (not just your username) and tap Next.

    Email Setup 1

  5. The Email Setup (2/5) screen will appear. The iPAQ will attempt to automatically configure some of the email settings. After a short time you should see a message saying Status: Completed. Tap Next.

    Email Setup 2

  6. The Email Setup (3/5) screen will appear. Enter your name in the Your name: field. Enter your full email address (not just the username) in the User name: field, e.g. your-username@fastmail.fm. Enter your password in the Password: field. Tap Next.

    Email Setup 3

  7. The Email Setup (4/5) screen will appear. Select IMAP4 from the Account Type: drop-down menu. Enter a Name for the account. The Name can be anything you like, it's just so you can identify different accounts if you have multiple email accounts setup in your iPAQ's inbox. Tap Next.


  8. Email Setup 4

  9. The Email Setup (5/5) screen will appear. Enter mail.messagingengine.com into the Incoming mail: field. If you are on one of the paid Fastmail accounts (member, full or enhanced) then you can use Fastmail's SMTP server. This means you can enter mail.messagingengine.com into the Outgoing mail: field. If you are on the free guest Fastmail account, then you will have to use your ISP's SMTP server (contact your ISP for this information). When you have entered the appropriate details, tap Options.


  10. Email Setup 5

  11. The Options (1/3) screen appears. Choose the frequency of checking for messages. Tap Next.

    Email Options 1

  12. The Options (2/3) screen appears. I found that I had to have both Outgoing email server requires authentication and Require SSL connection selected, otherwise I could only receive messages but not send them.

    Email Options 2

  13. The Options (3/3) screen appears. Set the options you like here. Tap Finish.


  14. Email Options 3

  15. The list of Accounts screen should appear. Tap OK.
  16. To download your email, tap the send/receive icon send/receive icon in the bottom menu.

(Screenshots taken with Pocket Informant. Custom Wisbar Advance 2 skin seen in screenshots created by Juni.)


Monday, December 20, 2004

What kind of cat are you?

According to the what kind of cat are you? quiz I'm a Bengal cat. I'm pretty happy with this. Bengals are friendly and they have cool spots.

Check out these spots!!
Peter did the quiz too. He's a Persian.

Hello. I'm a grumpy Persian kitty

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Biggest Puffball Ever

I was looking at some cat websites a few weeks ago and I saw this kitty.

Hello. I’m a huge puffball. Have you ever seen such a majestic mane on a domestic kitty?

He is surely the biggest puffball I've ever seen!!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

What's in the USB power sync travel kit?

There are lots of cool bits and pieces in the USB power sync travel kit.

  • AC travel charger module
  • Four slide in plug adapters for AC travel charger (US, UK, Europe, Australia)
  • Car travel charger
  • Module USB to IPAQ sync charger cable

USB power sync travel kit for iPAQs

This means I can now do the following things.
  • Simultaneously sync and charge the iPAQ via the laptop's USB port without using the iPAQ cradle
  • Charge the iPAQ via a power outlet in the US, the UK, Europe and Australia
  • Charge the iPAQ in the car
Excellent.

Yay for CompUSA

I'm very excited that I've finally been able to purchase a USB sync/charge cable for my new little iPAQ!

I've been having trouble acquiring this item because the reputable online stores didn't stock them and the physical stores didn't have them on the shelf. The only place I could find an hx4700 compatible USB sync/charge cable was at HP.com.

Accessories are often more expensive if you buy them directly from HP, which is why I never have in the past. However, in this particular situation I was prepared to pay the extra dollars. Unfortunately I still couldn't get the cable because the HP online store only accepts US credit cards.

I had pretty much given up being able to get an hx4700 compatible USB sync/charge cable. Then, amazingly, when Peter and I were in CompUSA yesterday, I saw one sitting on the shelf! I couldn't believe my eyes. It was just sitting there waiting for me to buy it! :) And what's even better is that it was cheaper than at HP.com

CompUSA have by far the best range of PDA accessories on their shelves. I think the other major stores have given up stocking PDA accessories and just have a few token items on the shelf. This means that PDA accessories usually need to be purchased online. This is certainly true of memory cards.

Physical stores usually have a pretty crappy range of memory cards, which is why Peter and I just ordered several memory cards from CompUSA.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Have you read The Da Vinci Code yet?

So it seems I'm hooked on these Dan Brown thriller/suspense novels.

After The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, I still hadn't had my fill, so I read Deception Point. I considered then reading Digital Fortress, but decided against it because I had heard that it wasn't Dan Brown's best work and I didn't want to be let disappointed.

In today's Sydney Morning Herald, I read an article about how well Dan Brown's novels have been selling in Australia. Take a look at this.

"There may be some people left who have not read Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, but they are a dwindling minority... The dominant trend in 2004's bestselling books may be summarised in two words: Dan Brown. The Da Vinci Code has sold more than 40 times what Random House initially budgeted for the novel. Even a book exploiting interest in The Da Vinci Code, called Cracking The Da Vinci Code, by Simon Cox, made it into the non-fiction top 10, selling 33,850 copies."
Urgh. I feel so mainstream.

Friday, December 10, 2004

30000 hits for my beginner cube solution page!

Time for some cross-website promotion. ;) My Beginner Solution to the Rubik's Cube webpage has reached 30,000 hits! Cool.

30000 hits for my beginner cube solution page! BTW, these pretty party balloons came from http://www.myfreeclipart.com/newyear.html

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Weather Pixie

Have you noticed the little Weather Pixie I added to my blog a few weeks ago?

The current temperature is displayed and little Weather Pixie's clothes change to match the weather.

Occasionally a little kitty cat appears with Goth Weather Pixie. Why? According to the site's FAQ page it is because "He is a cat. They're like that."

There are lots of little Weather Pixies from which to choose. My favourite is Goth Pixie 4.

Goth Weather Pixie Goth Weather Pixie
Goth Weather Pixie Goth Weather Pixie


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Miss Digital World

I discovered that there's a beauty pageant for the digital world - Miss Digital World.

On the official website, creator Franz Cerami has described the competition as "the search for a contemporary ideal of beauty, seen through virtual reality".

This year the title went to Chilean beauty Katty Ko, who is based on a real person (a Latin American soap opera star) and was created by artist Flavio Parra (the digital version that is, duh).

Apparently these digital beauties are more than just a bunch of pixels thrown together. A Wired News article highlights five of the contestants and -- in addition height, weight and birthplace -- lists each model's manager, claim to fame and personality type.

And it's not just physical beauty that's important for the competition. In this CNN article, the competition organisers said that the entrants "... should not have taken part -- not even as extras or cameos -- in pornographic films, shows or plays nor have made statements... in any way out of tune with the moral spirit of the competition."

The competition proved to be quite popular, attracting thousands of entries from all over the world.

So, if you are an aspiring graphic artist with an eye for beauty, you'd better get cracking because the search for Miss Digital World 2005 begins on 1 January!

Monday, December 06, 2004

Another avatar creator

I found another Avatar creator, Dookyweb. Here are some samples I created.

Avatar 1


Avatar 2


Avatar 3
What do you think?


Saturday, December 04, 2004

Avatar creator

I found this cute Avatar creator, Portrait Avatar Maker. Here's the one I created for me.

Jasmine

You know she's me because:

  • she's got long brown hair
  • she's wearing a purple top, a black skirt, and black boots
  • she's cuddling a kitty cat
  • she's got a mobile phone

These are all very Jasmine things. The only thing missing is that she isn't solving a Rubik's cube!

Here's the avatar I created for Peter.

Peter

He's carrying a mobile phone, which is a very Peter thing. And he looks worried about something, which is also a very Peter thing.


Friday, December 03, 2004

Angels & Demons

After The Da Vinci Code, I was kinda in the zone for more, so I read another Dan Brown book – Angels & Demons. It was basically the same book except that it was set in Italy instead of France, and involved the Illuminati instead of the Priory of Sion. Here's a dot point summary which could easily be describing either novel:

  • prominent and respected man is brutally murdered by a mysterious assassin
  • mysterious assassin takes orders from an even more mysterious leader, who only contacts the assassin by phone and whose identity and name are unknown to the assassin
  • weirdness of the murder scene suggests a secret society is involved
  • young female relative of the victim teams up with Robert Langdon (professor from Harvard who's an expert on secret societies and religious symbology) to solve the mystery
  • young female relative is attractive, intelligent, successful and headstrong
  • some characters who initially seem to be 'the good guys' turn out not to be, and vice versa
  • lots of references to religious and historial artefacts, symbology and locations
  • occasional references to potential romantic tension between the male and female protagonist
  • male and female protagonist must solve a series of puzzles, codes, cryptic messages, etc. to get to the bottom of things
  • male and female protagonist solve lots of puzzles, codes, cryptic messages, etc. and get to the bottom of things

I think that about sums it up.


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Peter loves his new iPod

Peter received his newly purchased whizzy fourth-generation-40GB-click-wheel-iPod yesterday. He's very excited - like me with a new iPAQ. ;)

iPod
iPod

Peter asked if I was interested in getting one too. I am, but only because it's a gadget and I love gadgets. I don't think I'm actually all that interested in having a portable music device. I don't have a discman and I wasn't sufficiently interested in MP3s to fill a 256mb SD card in my iPAQ, so it would probably be silly for me to purchase a 40GB iPod.

The iPod is very stylish. Style is important when it comes to gadgets. Many people just focus on functionality and features (which are key factors of course), but we shouldn't forget style. I know Jenneth would agree!

Jenneth had links to some great iPod cases, including a purple one which glows blue! Very pretty. Unfortunately the purple case is not compatible with the new fourth generation iPods so Peter will have to wait to get a cool case.

iPod
Cool iPod cases


Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Friday, November 26, 2004

Cases for the hx4705

I've had my new toy for a little over a week now and I love it! I've noticed that it's getting a few little scratches here and there from regular use so I thought I should buy a nice case for it.

I checked Jenneth's site for advice because I remember that she recently posted something about 4705 cases. I had a look at the stores she mentioned - Piel Frama, Sena, and Bellagio - but didn't especially like any of the cases on offer. They were fine, they just weren't right for my little iPAQ.

I'm not sure exactly what sort of case I want, but I'm sure I'll know it when I see it.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Thanksgiving Day

Pilgrim boy chasing turkey

Today is Thanksgiving. We don't have this holiday in Australia so I'm not really sure what it's all about (I think it's a North American thing). It appears to involve a long weekend, a large turkey and lots of other yummy food. Sounds pretty good to me. Actually, it sounds just like Christmas, but without the presents.

Pumpkins

Monday, November 22, 2004

Peter and iPAQs

Now that I've bought an iPAQ hx4705, Peter is interested in my iPAQ 3970 . I told him that he'd have to prove himself worthy first! ;)

I have been very devoted to my iPAQ 3970 over the past two years, and it has become accustomed to a certain level of respect. I couldn't possibly pass it on to someone who wasn't going to treat it properly!

Reading novels on PDAs

Several people have asked me if it's a strain on the eyes to read entire novels on the iPAQ. Anyone who asks this question has obviously not seen the majesty of the 480x640-resolution-transreflective-backlit-VGA-screen of the hx4705!

You can adjust the backlight, the font size, the font colour, so it's very customisable to personal preference.

Below is a screenshot. The screenshot really doesn't do it justice though, it looks much more inpressive in real life. Also, this screenshot is actually lower resolution than the real thing. 480 pixels by 640 pixels is too wide for this blog column and will throw the right-hand menu panel askew. Note that the image below links to a full 480 x 640 pixel image, which if you view at 100% rather than at whatever IE automatically resizes it to, you'll see it is very sharp.


First page of chapter one of The Da Vinci Code.
Screenshot taken with Pocket Informant 5 on an iPAQ hx4705.


Saturday, November 20, 2004

Da Vinci Code mania

Coincidentally, the day after I finished reading The Da Vinci Code I saw this news article. It seems that obsessive fans of the book have been wreaking havoc in Rennes-le-Chateau, a tiny town in south east France. Here are a few extracts from the article.

"The mayor of a French village besieged by obsessive fans of The Da Vinci Code has been forced to dig up the body of a mysterious priest and encase it in a concrete mausoleum to deter rapacious treasure hunters."

"It's a philistine minority but they come here and stomp all over the place with no respect for anything or anyone. Last year they even tried to tunnel into the church. It was like something out of a prison escape film. They began digging in the night, put the soil in bags and put the bags in the hole, which they covered with a layer of earth so nobody would see during the day. It was only when someone noticed the flower beds moving that we discovered what they were up to."
Interestingly, I actually knew of Rennes le Chateau long before I read The Da Vinci Code. Years ago I played the computer game Gabriel Knight 3 which is set in Rennes le Chateau. I think this means I will have to visit the little French town because (i) the Gabriel Knight is my favourite series of computer quest games, and (ii) I've visited the locations of the other two Gabriel Knight games (the first game was set in New Orleans, the second in Munich and Neuschwainsten Castle).

Yes, I realise it's quite geeky that I have visited the locations of my favourite computer games. One of the locations - New Orleans - was actually coincidental because it was a work trip. Germany, on the other hand, that was basically because of the game. Several years ago Peter and I were planning a trip to Europe and I said I was keen to see Munich and Neuschwainsten Castle because of the game. Fortunately, Peter thought these places sounded interesting anyway so he was happy to add them to the itinerary.

The Da Vinci Code

I finished reading The Da Vinci Code last night. I quite enjoyed it, but I'd hardly put it on a Top-10-Books-of-All-Time list.

I read it because everyone else was reading it and I wanted to find out what all the fuss was about. As I said above, I did enjoy it, however, there were a few things that didn't make sense I thought. I'm not talking from an historical accuracy point of view because I don't know enough about Grail history to comment on that front, I'm talking about the character's motives for their actions at various points. Hmmm. Perhaps I shall ponder some more and it will all become clear.

Bought my first ebook

I bought my first ebook earlier this week - The Da Vinci Code.

While I have regularly used my iPAQ for reading email, news sites and blogs, I have always been skeptical of ebooks. Did I really want to read hundreds of pages on a little iPAQ screen? Up till last Monday I thought 'probably not', but with the arrival of my new iPAQ 4705 (with VGA screen) imminent, I decided it was time to give it a go.

I had already chosen a book, so that part was easy, however I still needed to select an ebook reader app. There are several out there (e.g. Mobipocket, eReader, Microsoft Reader, µBook, Starbuck, TinyReader) and I didn't really know much about any of them. So, I went to Jenneth's site to look for an ebook reader review.

I ended up installing the trial version of Mobipocket on my iPAQ 3970 (my 4705 had not arrived at that point) and it was fine.

A few days later I tested out Mobipocket on my new 4705. Ew! It wasn't recognising VGA and so the text looked kinda crappy. Fortunately, I was already aware of this issue and knew how to fix it. During my ebook reader research I had read that Tweak2K2's VGA Brute Force hack would make Mobipocket display properly, so I installed it and order was restored. Yay!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

iPAQ 4705

Got my new iPAQ yesterday and I'm very excited!!

I've been using an iPAQ 3970 for almost two years and it's been great. In fact, it's still great, which is why I've kept it for so long. I knew some day I'd upgrade, but it was going to take something really special to displace the 3970.

Enter the iPAQ 4705. It's jam-packed full of features - 4" transreflective 480x640 resolution VGA screen, integrated wireless (bluetooth, IR, wifi), integrated SD ad CF slots and lots more.

iPAQ 4705
The iPAQ 4705

The most obvious feature when first powering up the iPAQ is the VGA screen. I knew the screen would be good (having read many iPAQ 4705 reviews before purchasing), but when I actually saw it for myself, I almost couldn't believe how amazing it was! The pictures online really don't do it justice.

Now that I have my new toy, what am I going to install on it? I've had so many things on my 3970 for so long that I almost forget they were 3rd party apps to begin with. Now I am looking at a brand new iPAQ, an 'empty slate' if you will, and it's hard to know where to begin.

Actually that's not true, it's very easy. ;)

To me, the very first thing that has to be installed on any iPAQ is Wisbar. Wisbar and Wisbar Advance 1.x don't appear to be compatible with WM2003SE (i.e. the 4705's OS), so it looks like I will have to purchase Wisbar Advance 2.x. I've just downloaded the trial version to keep me going for now.

Now I can start customising the Today screen. As any iPAQ person will tell you, personalisation of the Today screen is terribly important! Here are a few basics that I have to have on my Today screen:

  • a battery/memory monitor
  • weather channels, stock channels, news channels
  • program bar
  • upcoming appointments
  • various time zones around the world
  • a nice background image

There are various Today screen plugins for all of these things. The ones I use are Battery Pack Pro (includes Program Bar), Journal Bar, Calendar+ and WorldToday. I usually source Today screen themes from Pocket PC Themes, but their VGA selection is fairly limited so I will look elsewhere for this.


Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Most ridiculous eBay item ever

A 10-year-old grilled cheese sandwich appeared on eBay recently. Apparently the bids reached $US22,000 before eBay cancelled the auction.

Why so much attention for a grilled cheese sandwich? Because it bears the image of the Virgin Mary, or so claims the women who made the sandwich.

If you want to see for yourself, there's a picture of the famed sandwich in this news article. At first glance all I saw was a grilled cheese sandwich. After looking at it more intently, I could sort of, maybe, make out the image of a person. In the same way that if you stare intently at some clouds you probably can probably make out the image of a person.

Weird.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Musical CV

This guy is a legend. With a CV like this, who wouldn't want to hire him??

His musical CV is available in French and English. It's also available in more traditional forms including Word and PDF.

I think Peter especially likes the CV. He's been playing it over and over again this afternoon.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

New York Cat Show, Part XII

These are the last of my pictures from the New York Cat Show.

...
In addition to lots of kitties, there were many vendors at the cat show too. This crazy orange cat car was from one of the cat food companies.

...
Many breeders went to considerable and expense decorating the cages of their pampered kitties.

...
The GSC kitties hung out in these cat enclosures while being introduced to the public.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

New York Cat Show, Part XI

Persian kittens. It doesn't get much cuter than this!

Hello. We're Tortie and Orange Persian Kittens. We're just babies and all this show stuff has tired us out.
Hello. We're Tortie and Orange Persian kittens. We're just babies and all this show stuff has tired us out.

We were working hard on being as adorable as possible so some nice cat people would adopt us at the cat show.
We were working hard on being as adorable as possible so some nice cat people would adopt us at the cat show.

Hello. We're Grey and Orange Persian kittens. We've also been working hard on being cute. Actually, that's not true. We're so naturally adorable that it's easy!
Hello. We're Grey and Orange Persian kittens. We've also been working hard on being cute. Actually, that's not true. We're so naturally adorable that it's easy!

Hello. I'm a Black and White Persian kitten. I quite enjoy showing off at cat shows.
Hello. I'm a Black and White Persian kitten. I quite enjoy showing off at cat shows, unlike my flatmate, the Exotic.

My friend here (who is an Exotic) has had enough of the public and so is hiding under her cat bed.
My friend here (who is an Exotic) has had enough of the public and so is hiding under her cat bed. Every now and then our person would lift up the cat bed to check on her. She'd look up with a scared expression and then hide under the covers again. Poor dear. She's new to the whole cat show thing and I don't think she's dealing with it very well.

Friday, November 05, 2004

New York Cat Show, Part X

Hello. I'm a Cream Persian
Hello. I'm a Cream Persian. I compete in the Solid Colour Persian Division. Check out my magnificent fluffy mane!

Hello. I'm an Orange and White Persian
Hello. I'm a an Orange and White Persian. I compete in the Bi-Colour Persian Division. It's been a long day so I was a bit grumpy when this photo was taken.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

New York Cat Show, Part IX

Here are some lovely Silver and Golden Persians.

Hello. I'm a Golden Persian. Everyone tells me I'm a beautiful princess.
Hello. I'm a Golden Persian. Everyone tells me I'm a beautiful princess.

Hello. I'm a Chinchilla Persian. CFA describes my breed as exquisite and ethereal.
Hello. I'm a Silver Chinchilla Persian. CFA describes my breed as "exquisite", "ethereal" and "a sparkling white cat with black tipping scattered as evenly as stardust, ever so lightly, on the face, legs, tail and body".