It is probably fair to say that the Unity interface in Ubuntu 11.04 is quite controversial and has led to some mixed reactions. Last October Mark Shuttleworth, the leader of the Ubuntu project, announced that Unity would be the default interface on desktop as well as netbooks where it and its predecessor had become commonplace. I've been using Ubuntu 11.04 across three devices; a laptop, a touchscreen netbook and a computer connected to a television. I've decided to give up on Unity on the laptop and go back to the classic interface, but on the other two devices I quite like Unity. Here I am going to try to work out why Unity is a desktop no-go for me.
There's nothing like the expression of mild surprise to confirm that a radical change in the technological landscape is taking place. While showing people the latest phone I've on review, the ZTE Racer (a £99 pay as you go Android phone from 3 UK) I was struck by how many times I heard things like “Oh, that's actually alright, isn't it?”, maybe a realisation that smart phones are arriving for the masses and not just people who are prepared for spend hefty sums on the latest shiny gadget. This isn't a unique offer either, other networks are offering budget Android smartphones (notably Orange with the San Francisco) so now many people who might not have considered owning a smart phone could now do so leading to some interesting changes and new opportunities.
The eighth of July 1989 was quite a proud day for me. On that day I was handed a certificate to mark my participation in the national finals of the British Computer Society (BCS) Schools Computing Quiz. Our team had demonstrated a knowledge of technology (which is now probably in museums) that was almost on a par with the team that won. It was also the last time I remember having any contact with the BCS, despite the fact I work in IT full time and have done for quite a while. This is not due to any bad feeling, I remember everybody I met from the BCS as being very nice, it's just that somehow over the years the BCS faded into the background. Now I read that the BCS is “in crisis”.
I am a huge music fan, I'll listen to all sorts of music ranging from the pop to opera and this is my experience of Spotify, a service that truly is a “game changer” meaning you can listen to virtually any music you like without having to go buy a download or a CD. I've been a Spotify user for quite a while and am now a premium (subscription) customer. There is one snag though, I am also an Ubuntu user, a platform not supported officially by Spotify. Despite this, it is possible to get Spotify up and running on Ubuntu and a few mobile devices. This is my experience so far of using Spotify.
A thought that hasn't left my mind after my recent trial of the HTC Hero smart phone is a creeping suspicion that the days of the general purpose mobile phone are numbered. Up until now we have tended to carry one mobile device with us and used it for all occasions. It was fine for when at work, and on an evening out. It didn't matter what we where wearing or where we were, we would just have one phone. Now mobile devices are providing more and more functionality, and that functionality will differ in importance according to your situation. Is it logical any more to stick with one phone?
All sorts of factors can affect the price of a house, and this is something I have been giving a lot of thought to recently as I contemplate buying a property. At the moment house prices have fallen at the end of a long boom, but come the next boom a new factor might have a major impact: broadband speeds. Some might howl at this idea and still think of an Internet connection as a trivial matter, but the seeds of this issue have already been sown. Broadband connections in the UK (and I suspect many other countries) and sadly not created equally, and people living in different areas and properties will get dramatically different levels of service; and will often be left with only two solutions if they want a faster connection: hope things improve, or move.
Last night I had the pleasure of popping in to the Ubuntu Jaunty release party in London. The venue, despite being quite large, was utterly packed with people associated with the Ubuntu community either by working on it in some way or just being users. It is amazing to think that this was only one of a hundred release parties taking place worldwide for this latest release of Ubuntu, which has a six monthly release schedule. The excitement is justified, the latest release of Ubuntu, version 9.04 (or to use its development name Jaunty) is faster, slicker and has more cutting edge features than its predecessor, Ubuntu 8.10. The project has lived up to its slogan of “Linux for human beings” by producing an operating system that is simple to run and just works (mostly ;)).
It took me a long time to get Tumblr, like many others I wondered what it was for, why would I use it instead of a blog? All a bit of a struggle for a computer geek to understand, we have so many tools on the internet such as wikis, blogs and forums that are designed to solve problems and bring us closer to realisable outcomes. We developers share traits with scientists and engineers in that we look at the world in a logical way looking for cold rational answers to questions.
It's not everyday you get to attend an event that could be described as "symbolic", but the social media cafe held at Bletchley Park today could certainly be described as that. The site is the birthplace of the IT as we know it today and social media is the very latest development in how we use computers, and the place has pretty much everything in between those two points that to its hosting of the National Museum of Computing. It is also the site where incredibly important work took place that is credited with shortening World War II and saving millions of lives. It is an amazing site, and there is so much there that it is difficult to see it all in one day, and the dedication, friendliness and knowledge of the staff and volunteers bring the place to life and make it a visit a rewarding experience. Despite all this though it hangs under a big black cloud of government indifference, it has to attempt to meet the increasing challenge of restoring and maintaining this complex site largely though money it raises itself, an issue you may have seen highlighted in today's Telegraph online.