Firefox Personas

Here is a way to waste all of your morning, update to Firefox 3.6 (or download and start using Firefox) and you’ll spend the rest of your morning installing Personas, a customised look for your browser.

You can also do the same to your Google homepage if you like, though it’s not entirely seamless. This is still very new functionality, so have a play around and see what appeals to you.


My electric car is way cooler than yours!

Just read this post over at Wired about a team of engineers who have built an amazing electric car. I have to say I’m very impressed with the look and the technical solution… but how does it sound? Most likely like a cross between my funky German vacuum cleaner and my Makita re-chargable drill.

The team behind the car are from North Design Labs and they are responsible for some excellent concept vehicles, art cars and a lot of fun.

Credit: Photo: Jim Merithew/

The Rally Fighter, and why I want one.

This car, the Local Motors Rally Fighter fascinates me for so many reasons, the first is that it’s crowd sourced, the second is that it’s something you get to build, the third is that it’s very cool, the fourth is that for a performance vehicle it’s pretty green and the list could go on.

So what is the Rally Fighter? It’s an off-road orientated vehicle, powered by a BMW diesel engine, the design was selected by members of a community and when you purchase one you go to the micro-factory and spend six days putting it together with one-on-one assistance from a professional mechanic. Depending on your choices it can be built as a two seater, or carry four adults or two adults and three children. I’m not entirely sure you could drive it to work in Auckland, but it would be fun to try.

Seriously though, if I had the USD$50,000 would I buy one? Maybe, it’d be fun to build and would make a great promotional vehicle. Hey I guess you could even enter it in something like the Targa New Zealand rallies.

Oh well, without the money I’ll put it into the day dream pile and make do with the fun of putting together the LEGO equivalent, the Technic Off Roader. This took about a week to build with Olle helping me.

Yesterday was a long day…

Where do I start… well, how about we ran out of water. Yep, not the best way to start the day, one of the warmest this summer, with three grumpy tired sticky kids. Sounds awful, but a problem to be easily solved… errr no. For a start try to find a bulk water delivery company on the Yellow site, forget it. I jut dare you to try and have the listings make sense.

So despite the best efforts of local online directories, the Citizens Advice Service and the local Waitakere Council, we finally got hold of some water carriers. However, then we found out that the tanks need to be cleaned, otherwise the result of dumping 10,000 litres of new water into the tank is slush, slurry, un-drinkable water and possible broken water pump and appliances. So back to the same sources for a cleaner! Talk about trying!

Finally after many calls, we got Bruce to clean the tanks and Earl to deliver the water – sorted! Well almost, as we just add water and the pump stops… well… pumping. Now we need to wait for someone to fix that.

Now I need to stop here and explain that most of this was being dealt with directly by Carla and the kids, as I was off helping a friend move furniture across the city. She did really well! And to top it all off, I got one of those familiar headaches as I drove home, one that I knew was turning to a migraine, so I walk in the door deposit dinner on the table and head off to a dark room.

So lessons for today, do not let your water tank run dry and do not depend upon online directories for correct information. 

Books, comics and the iPad

It’s still a couple of months until the Apple iPad will be in the first customers hands, but it is starting to look like books, magazines, newspapers and comics are going to be a big part of the content story and really become the unique selling point that gets an iPad into someones home once the initial Apple fans have theirs.

Gizmodo have a brilliant article on how comics should look incredible. Also have a gander at WOWIO to see what comics could be made available, though right now, these are are delivered as PDF files.

Meanwhile The Guardian has a good article on why ebooks will ring in changes for the printed book industry and you should have a look at what Wired have to say on the pricing of ebooks, though this all sounds familiar. Apple fractured the music industry with the launch of iTunes, but now with a few artists exceptions, pretty much everyone is on board.

It’s not really that bad is it?

So I’m going to wade in on the iPad debate, well rather debates as I keep reading in the media.

Lets start with the name. Do I think it’s a back handed slap to females?  The answer would be no. But I do find some of the comments funny. I remember watching the iPhone launch and thinking, wow, it looks nice, but really! Does it do anything better than the Palm Treo 650 I had at the time? I’ll come back to this thought at a later date.

Was I disappointed like so many others out there? Judging by the comments of many, many others, then the answer would be no. Hey it’s cheaper than I thought, and looks pretty cool, got a good battery life, a nice weight and should be made well and running the iPhone OS, it should not crash.

Would I have liked more? Yes, a USB port and a SD card port and stop prattling on about games, this will be an mediocre games platform at best, otherwise not really.

What did I really like? Well as I said before, I’m most excited about the ability to read books, magazines and newspapers from a nice sized and weighted device. For me this would rarely leave the house, I have a MacBook Pro and an iPhone, so my portability and workability are solved. I doubt I’d watch movies on it, nor do a lot of email, some social media, such as Face Book and LinkedIn. Otherwise it’ll be some light checking out websites and buying bike bits!

So will I buy one? Mmmmm a really good question and it comes down to a couple of things, firstly the book and magazine content. How much will it cost and will the experience be good? I’ll tell you now, I’m not paying $35.00 for a Harry Potter book, when I have the hardback copies, or even any other latest release, I expect the e-books to be at least 60% cheaper if not more, as there is no distribution cost except revenue share to Apple and that’s about 30%, less if you are a big player and sell a lot of content. The same theory applies to magazines and comics, it has to be significantly discounted for digital delivery. The second thing is iTunes and the way it’s part of the purchasing process, it’s horrible and must be fixed. In fact iTunes just needs to be fixed full stop!

Will it save publishing? Err save publishing from what? A lot of the big publishing companies have the ability to buy and sell Apple without raising a sweat, but they are becoming disconnected from their consumers. So another path is good and it surely the profit margin per sale must be fantastic. All the content is handled digitally now, so cutting out the printing, shipping and distribution has good to be attractive. As for smaller publishers, well the same mechanic applies, it’s all digital now, it’s their chance to get away from the horror of the costs of printing.

I’ll leave the final word on the iPad for now with Stephen Fry, as his article for The Guardian summed up my thoughts.

And here it is

Apple have announced the iPad. I won’t go over all the specs and I think from reading the presentation it was very light on many details and ideas, but I still want one. I think it’s the brilliant link between digital delivery and printed books and magazines for publishing.