Deep in Thought

Here’s some brain fodder. It’s a project that includes a WiFi/Bluetooth network that lets you send MMS messages for free from one phone to another on the same system.

It made me think a bit more about phone networks, and why we’re not apparantly using Internet-based telephony as much as we could. It has obvious appeal: much cheaper (even free?) calls to friends anywhere in the world; high quality over broadband.

The reason I don’t use it? It’s not as comfortable talking via a computer & speaker/mike than it is just picking up a phone and dialling. It’s about familiarity – I don’t believe the average Joe is comfortable rigging up their PC for this sort of thing.

So, a solution? I’m sure there must be something out there. A USB phone handset or one that plugs into speaker+mike on the soundcard. There are headsets but again, unless you’re comfortable with them they just don’t fit the bill.

There’s also the awkward problem of keeping track of who has and who hasn’t got similar capabilities, which leads me on to my proposal:

What if one were to develop a ‘normal’ phone, with keypad, etc. and familiar handset. That phone is plugged into your computer, which is in turn connected to the ‘net and has a modem.

You dial a number on your phone. The keypresses go straight to some software on the computer which then goes online and looks up in a database that number, to see if it exists.

If it does, the connection is made over IP to the other person’s computer, which makes their phone ring, etc. The cost is probably free, or at worst very cheap!

If it doesn’t exist in the database, the software uses the modem to dial as normal via traditional phone lines.

Anyway that’s my proposal. If it’s been done already I haven’t seen it.

Thoughts? Comments? As always, welcome!


Just wondering how fast Google can pick this up… it was in today’s NTK 🙂

Perl or die shit

If you’re wondering, they give Google search samples with odd or slightly misspelt examples. Well, I reckon it’s possible to get fairly high ranking if I mention what they’re searching for, if that makes sense.

Sorry if you come here from NTK, looking for amusing source code – it’s merely an experiment!


Blimey, Michael Portillo is actually wearing a conservative suit for once (pun coincidental) on This Week, unlike his usual loud green shirts.

Actually despite This Week appearing at first as a shy resurrection of Despatch Box (same presenter, etc) it’s actually very good. Almost compelling viewing.

News Junkie

I think I’m turning into a news junkie with all this coverage. The BBC have been switching over to News 24 much earlier in the night (I caught it at midnight) and BBC One, ITV1 and Radio 4 have been supplying me and millions of others with vast amounts of coverage and information. The websites have also been busy, with news sites covered with Iraq coverage – I’ve been spending far too much time learning about Iraq and the various articles of interest lately.

It’s some reassurance that I have yet to join the digital age, and still only receive four channels (yes, we’re still not within the five coverage area) but I am more tempted than ever to pay out for Freeview to provide me with at least two 24-hour news channels to satisfy my addiction – at the moment all four terrestrial channels are showing a variety of dreary Saturday night shows and blatently lacking Huw Edwards’ rotary updates. The cynic in me thinks that this absence is a cunning ploy to get us to buy up digital, but the optimist reassuringly reminds me that I look better without square eyes….


I really need to get some practise in. I lost miserably at a game of Mornington Crescent this afternoon 🙁

From Yonder Car Park

In true pointless techie style I am writing this while sat in a car park in Gosport 🙂

The great RSS switch-over has begun. Basically I am rewriting the blog code to output RSS 0.92 and then have another page translate it with XSLT.

One of the most difficult decisions to make was which version and type of feed to use. Netscape, Purl, Userland and the W3C all seem to have come up with versions and the version numbers don’t make sense.

I’m on the Userland thread (0.91, 0,92, and 2.0), choosing the 0.92 variant because it seems well supported, provides enough information to contain what I want (for now), and isn’t overly complicated.

The actual system is almost done, so more news shortly. In the meantime I’d like to say that writing a blog while sat in a car park in Gosport is cumbersome and painfully slow.

You Have Mail

Just spent the past 2 hours of my life doing nothing but replying to emails. Have another 37 to go. I look forward to the day when I can employ a secretary… they could live in the spare bedroom.

Saw a really cool (ie. utterly pointless) application of SNMP the other day (I’ve lost the link, bugger). It showed how many emails were in the guy’s inbox and how many were spam. A scary proportion was spam.

Time Zones for PCs?

I got a slightly odd email t’other day, from Not knowing whether it was spam or not I searched on Google and found a rather interesting attempt at spamming Google itself!

I still haven’t figured out whether the program itself is a virus or whether it’s a geniune product (actually the latter looks true; the main site has quite a lot of detail). If anybody has happened to come across this before do tell!

Picking Up

Despite the stacks of work to do, I’m really keen to redesign this blog very shortly. I want to split it up into several areas, which will hopefully filter the content so that it’s more useful. For example, I’ll have one filter for all the posts about Blogwise (I’ll then link from Blogwise to that blog instead of running a seperate blog). I’ll have another about HTML & browsers (since I seem to moan for/against Opera all the time!), and another as a personal journal.

Anyway, this is all ‘in the works’. In the meantime this tool for finding colour harmonies looks quite useful. I can usually knock up a website with no major faults but I’m no designer, and having sensible hues is something I will happily defer to a PHP script!

(Oh, I’m getting into RSS aggregation in a big way, so expect XML…..)


In an attempt to get marks for versioning in our uni coursework I installed CVS and suggested that everybody use Eclipse, a very capable and free(!) IDE for Java.

Since then I’ve grown quite interested in CVS as a whole, and am considering using it for the Blogwise code. Unfortunately I couldn’t instantly find a suitable IDE for PHP with CVS built in. I tried WinCVS but I have had problems with it from day one and it has some odd quirks/defaults.

However, TortoiseCVS is up there in ‘quite cool’ land. When you create a new repository or check out one on your hard disk it recognises this and colours all your files differently within that directory. The files are tinted red if they’re out of sync with the server, then turn a nice green once they’re committed. I’m going to give it a few more days of testing before I start giving it my full thumbs up, but if you’re interested it can be had at