Category Archives: Archives

As most of my work is invention, organisation and strategy, I don’t do a lot of tech work these days but I’ve been running this blog for fifteen years, so the archived tech, news and other ramblings are archived here.

The Whatness of the vServer

The vServer is an electronic publishing, blogging and collaboration platform, based around a flexible jigsaw of “best-of-breed” Open Source and Open Architecture components. The various elements of the jigsaw can, at need, be combined, substituted and integrated with existing enterprise infrastructures to provide a flexible architecture for the creation and maintenance of dynamic web sites, online communities, team collaboration and mobile device and service integration.

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The Powerbook is Dead…

…Long live the, ah, MacBook.

So we’re starting with sad note in technohistory: I’ve been surgically attached to both the name and entity of Powerbook since it first appeared rather more than fourteen years (and to my laughingly named Mac ‘Portable’ before that), so I’m unlikely to convert to the casual dropping of, “I’ll just grab my MacBook…” overnight. Or possibly not ever. And what happens when Apple migrates their Power Mac range to Intel – do we end up with the Mac Mac?

But enough of the sentimental maundering – this is supposed to be about what the Intel shift means to travelling photographers and meedja types, for whom a <whatever>Book is their weapon of choice, and for those Wintel frustratees who are considering a shift, now that direct platform comparisons are possible for the first time.

First things first, then – just what is a MacBook, and what’s changed from the previous generation of PowerPC-based machines?


A full specification is available on the Apple web site, so I’m not going to reiterate that, but concentrate on what’s changed, for better and worse. The basic industrial design remains as for the 15″ Aluminium PowerBooks, albeit in a case that’s 1cm wider than before, but a couple of mm slimmer – almost back to the thickness of the PowerBook Ti. Depth remains the same. Strange to tell, that little extra slimness is much more significant for travelling than the extra centimeter of width – I’ll happily trade a bit of footprint for something I can stuff into the narrowest possible space in a crowded equipment bag. A good start then. Now for the rest…

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Router Madness

Netgear DG814

I live in the country, in a place where the beer is real, wellies are green and broadband is something of a latecomer. In fact I didn’t get broadband in this corner of Surrey until two years ago, at which point, and after years of reliable ISDN service from my old faithful Netopia 3100 router in connecting to both the Net and our corporate Cisco-based systems, I leapt excitedly on the DSL bandwagon with a Netgear DG814. Now I’d modestly reckon that I’m usually pretty good at assessing technology and getting it right (it being part of my job’n’all…), but, as what followed demonstrated, I do seem to have developed a rather Nelsonian blind spot with regard to low-end routers…

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LloydsTSB Security Hole

Banks are conservative organisations, who worry about the security and integrity of their customers’ financial data, right? They’re conservative in that they won’t introduce new technologies or processes until their highly-skilled security analysts have had the chance to ensure that all bases are covered in terms of any potential security vulnerability, to themselves or their customers. Sounds entirely reasonable, doesn’t it? It also means that we should forgive them for being, shall we say, a tad slow in catching up with the way the world is and wishes to be.

So here’s a challenge for LloydsTSB: Please explain this:

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Ubiquity, Gorillas and the vServer

My field is Ubiquity – helping people and communities to enable themselves with effective and universally available knowledge, collaboration and online presence.

Ubiquity is a broad field, and one that tends to headline on the functionality and geek-chic of the endpoint devices and the ever-expanding notion of “invisible” technologies – from PDAs and mobile phones, through wearable computers and so on, to smart buildings and intelligent shoelaces.

I consider that holy grail of ‘invisible’ technology to be slightly spurious, finding the concept of ‘casual’ technology to be rather more useful. Here, people are able to extend the utility of the tools they already have available and are comfortable with using, rather than having to continually adopt new technologies and their infrastructures. My focus however is less on the endpoint technologies than on the knowledge architectures, models and processes which give people a reason to use the their technological tools, new or old, to seamlessly integrate their physical and virtual existences. The enabler for this is access to knowledge and association that is timely, contextualised, personalised and relevant to who they are, where they are and what they’re doing.

I’m the architect of a variety of more and less complex collaboration and content delivery systems and applications and regard the whole concept of individual and group empowerment for knowing, for interaction an collaboration as key to the emergence of a truly enabled society – I can bore for England on the subject.

I also work in some rather remote corners of the world. Which is to say that they’re remote only to us “Western” technorati – the people who live there find them usefully local. The remoteness is simply that of external perception, local infrastructure and access to the tools that access, create and present the connecting knowledge that breaks the barriers of medium, geography and culture. This is the true digital divide, where the affluent connected find it easier and cheaper to become more affluent and connected and, in being connected, lose contact with those societies that don’t form part of the infosphere and thereby tend to fall off the edge of our perceptual world. And so it goes. But what if people had that casual access to communication, presentation and collaborative knowledge? What if their voices, achievements, needs and aspirations could be heard, directly and immediately, across the world?

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3G Moblogging

Now for a first – 3G Moblogging. While it almost seems a shame to
merely send text over a 384Kbps link, there will be much more to
follow. On second thoughts, it’s about right – my link from an
Edinburgh-Glasgow train has just reverted to GPRS and 44Kbps (with a
following wind): Orange claim 70% UK population coverage for 3G, an
utterly weasel measure for a mobile service – the word “mobile” being
non-trivial in the context, which probably equates to about 20%
geographical cover at (say) 500m resolution. So, ’tis early days yet,
although the unreliability of UK GSM networks after a dozen years
does not bode well.

Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better

In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, when the pigs take over the farm, and set up their workers’ paradise, the mantra of the revolution, repeated ad infinitum by a Greek chorus of bleating sheep, is “Two Legs Bad, Four Legs Good”. Which pretty much sums up the level of debate we’ve had in the camps of the Motorola/Macintosh and Intel/Microsoft alliances for the last two decades. It’s also a war that’s been fought on two fronts – from the mud-bogged trenches of the Mac/Windows jihadists to the free-flowing desert warfare of the Intel/Motorola skirmishes. And, as any general will tell you, a war fought on two fronts is bloody hard work, with the principal sufferers along the way being the confused and shell-shocked civilian population.

But one part of that war is heading for a conclusion: Apple is switching to Intel. Let me say that again: Apple. Is. Switching. To. Intel. It’s like watching Martin Luther walk up to the church door in Wittenberg and nail a piece of paper to the door only to find that, rather than the 95 Theses of Contention, it’s an advert for a lap-dancing club. So it’s probably time for a little reflection, not to mention eating of crow. I’ll have ketchup with mine…

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