Friday, 27 June 2008

Dali and dominos

Time for your weekly dose of procrastination methinks (those of you who haven't already skived off to trudge around in the Glastonbury mud):


The BBC is encouraging you to try out the beta of its new iPlayer; even if the inexplicable prominence of Chris Evans's face on the 'Try it now!' button at the bottom of the page does rather suggest the contrary.

Europe's "last remaining Communist state", Slabovia, has its own answer to the iPlayer. Enjoy such delights as 'News 2.4' and 'Watch. Enjoy. Or Be Punished!'

Salvador Dali on 'What's My Line?' - and what could be more surreal than that?


Help a small humanoid character called Gnome avert the destruction of his homeworld in Samorost. Then, erm, do it again in Samorost 2. They're both somewhat surreal point and click adventure/puzzle games, apparently.

Domino-P seems to be all about solving puzzles by knocking down hand-drawn dominos. Gets a bit repetitive after a while, but nice soundtrack.

Random bits and pieces

Perfect for Friday afternoon procrastination, this web application makes it look like you're working when really you're reading an e-book.

Why not submit your deepest neuroses to public scrutiny? Because, yeah, that's going to help...

EBay for people who can't quite let go, lets you rent out your unwanted or unused stuff.

And finally...

Someone who definitely can let go, Ian Usher, an ex-pat living in Australia, is auctioning off his entire life. If you want his job, his house, his possessions and his friends (his evident disillusionment with it all doesn't seem to be included; presumably he'll take that with him), it can be yours for AU $399,400. Or at least that was the minimum bid at the time of writing.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Grand Theft Thwart-o*

Thieves caught by the gadgets they've stolen. Ingenious uses of social media to get out of tight situations. Over the last few months, a number of items have popped up in my feedreader that could be summed up by one or other of those descriptions.

Two (related) questions, strike me:

As the technology we carry with us every day becomes more attractive to criminals might it also be becoming more resistant to theft?

Could the proliferation of wi-fi, GPS, and Web 2.0 features on our gadgets, perhaps, be used to make us safer?

Let's have a look at a few of these stories.

- Most amusingly, there's the story of a Japanese man who, upon noticing food going missing from his fridge, set up a security camera to send photos to his mobile. He soon discovered that a homeless woman had been living in one of his storage closets - probably for a year.

- A few mobile phone thieves have been caught out (though not always caught) by phone-cams set to instantly upload photos to Flickr, or similar. Here's a laptop thief, too.

- A woman whose flat was broken into, and her Mac stolen, was able to photograph the culprit by triggering her Mac's webcam remotely.

- Journalist James Karl Buck managed to shorten his stay in an Egyptian jail by Twittering the word 'ARRESTED' from his mobile phone.

- Most recently, I happened upon this story about a woman whose lost video camera uploaded footage of the person who'd found it - its Eye-Fi memory card automatically activated itself when fortuitously within range of a compatible unsecured wireless network.

Some of the stories above involve luck, others ingenuity, some of them contain both, but for me what they all point to is the possibility of the technology we use every day being capable of protecting both itself and us.

Those stories alone will, no doubt, have given the tech-minded reader an idea or two towards that aim; setting your phone to automatically upload pictures to Flickr (if you have an agreeable data tariff), for instance, or finding out how to control your Mac remotely via the web. The existence of even suggests the possibility of using your camera-phone as a kind of personal CCTV camera.

But with so many things now designed to connect wirelessly to the internet, increasing numbers of free wi-fi hotspots, GPS enabled phones and cameras, 3G+ networks, my question is: how long before enterprising gadget manufacturers start creating their own built-in anti-theft or personal security features? Surely there's a great marketing opportunity for someone there; a killer feature to differentiate your phone/camera/etc from the rest.

All the more so, since these items feature prominently amongst the most stolen gadgets.

Until something along the lines of GadgetTrak comes as standard, though, I guess there's always... well, just GadgetTrak, really. Apart from a few, less general services, I really couldn't find anything else.


Friday, 20 June 2008

Something for the weekend

Turned out I was too busy not procrastinating (mostly) to procrastinate this afternoon. Still, here are some links anyway - who knows, it might be a wet weekend.


Happily, despite cancellation, Futurama lives on. Here's a clip from the latest DVD release.

A robot band - the inevitable destination of electronic music?

Old ladies aren't as defenceless as they look... Fabulous stuff!


First, I should apologise for linking to Dino Run last week - truly, hideously addictive. So much so that when it inexplicably lost the dinosaur I'd finally got up to maximum ability levels, I found myself feeling not so much angry as oddly and suddenly free.

Then again, if that all sounds more like a recommendation to you, here are the rest of Pixeljam's neo-retro time-stealers:

RatMaze - find cheese in a maze, as quickly as you can.

RatMaze 2 - find much, much more cheese, much, much more quickly. With puzzles this time, too.

Gamma Bros - not the Mario clone I expected, but a nostalgia inducing shoot-em-up. I sense addiction looming again...

Random links

Peter Gabriel wants to help you filter entertainment according to your own personal tastes. If the involvement of a known Phil Collins associate doesn't put you off, click here.

Wimbledon is imminent. And this year it's going all hi-tech, apparently. [I know, not much use for this weekend, but great for weekday procrastination. If you like tennis, obviously].

Some online community type thing revolving around designing T-shirts.

And finally...

If it's a really bad summer this year maybe you could spend all that time indoors building a V-12 two-stroke engine out of paper?

No, I don't know why you would either, but someone evidently thought it was a good idea.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Link, link, link, link, link

Actually, there'll probably be more than five links, but you get the idea.


Movies have gone Open Source, apparently. The latest seems to be Big Buck Bunny - think Dreamworks style animation.

Someone really isn't impressed by the Wii.

Cats + Look Who's Talking = this.

Radiohead's Nude played by a ZX Spectrum and some old computer parts. For some reason.


Possibly one of the easiest games ever. You just have to burn a rope. And jump a bit.

This game looks like a dinosaur. Which is entirely appropriate, since you have to save one from fiery asteroid wrought extinction.

Are you sitting in an office doing repetitive tasks and trying to avoid a supervisor? This might be the game for you. Or not.

Read the sweary clipart comic. Or play the game. The choice is yours.


Two health risks in one convenient easy to carry package.

Or if you're trying to quit, just replace the fags with these.

You can even get an electronic rolly, these days.

Odds and ends

Still can't get Channel Five? Starting to miss Neighbours? Thank goodness for live telly on your computer.

Much the same thing, but for news junkies.

Or how about a little consensual stalking?

And finally...

Do you have a cat? Ever wondered what it gets up to when you're not looking?

Here's how to find out.

If you don't mind robbing it of all its enigmatic feline mystique and invading its furry privacy, obviously.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Friday's links

Well, I might not have got around to any lifehacking links yet this week, but never mind - it's Friday afternoon, so that's the last thing you'll want to be thinking about. The following should prove much more enjoyable:


A fishing rod, a surfboard, some steak, a shark and an amateur stuntman - oddly, this doesn't end how you'd expect. But is it genuine?

Three-way iPhone Pong - worth voiding your warranty? Also, how long before anyone actually scored a point, do you think?

The Wii guitar controller from Guitar Hero being used as an actual musical instrument.


Stop a cat from wandering off - even more difficult than it sounds (and if that doesn't sound difficult, you've evidently never owned a cat).

Enough sports games to keep you going for days, courtesy of The Guardian.

Five-a-side American football with dinosaurs - surprisingly excellent procrastination fodder. Even just in the free download version (the full version is $15).

DIY arty stuff

Apparently, the dual screens of the Nintendo DS make a great sketchbook.

Animasher: create your own animations online. It's in beta at present, though, so you have to sign-up for it; Gear Live has more info.

If you prefer your cartoons un-animated, here are a couple of sites for creating your own web-comics: toonlet and Bitstrips.


I mentioned Muxtape the other week; it doesn't have a search facility, annoyingly, but someone's already solved that problem.

Share a song with someone without having to email it; assuming it's in the TinySong database.

Synaesthetes might get most out of this one: the musical equivalent of a mood ring.

Should you ever need royalty free stock music (Aitken and Waterman not involved), or fancy uploading your own for others to use, iStockphoto is diversifying.

And finally...

Many people, at present, seem to think that the end of the world is nigh. But I'm not talking about over-reactions to the beginning of the latest series of Big Brother; I'm talking about a certain kind of Christian. Just in case they're right, and if you're presumptuous enough to believe that you might be claimed by the Rapture, here's a website where (for $40) you can leave - for the more ungodly of your friends and family members, who might have been left behind - your final messages of consolation.

"Ha ha!" possibly might not be the most Christian option, though.