BarCamp LA 6

Bloggin’ from BarCamp, baby…

I’m relatively new to the PodCamp/BarCamp (tech meetups) scene. It’s only really started to start in Australia this year, and it’s been going on in many international locations for a few years now.

A week ago Chris Darbro asked me if I was going to BarCamp LA 6. I didn’t even know it existed. The next event I was gearing up for is PodCamp AZ.

I’m really excited Chris told me though because it’s been another educating experience for me! I’ve been learning a lot of stuff about business ethics that I knew very little about, but I can definitely use in the near future.

During dinner the popular meme IT’S PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME reveled itself with some awesome dance moves!

After that all the giddy geeks continued watching hilarious videos via the projector. Many of them I hadn’t seen before.

Another new thing to me was Powerpoint Karaoke (CC) in which you’re given a randomly chosen Powerpoint slideshow to present, and people watch how well you do. Pretty funny.

OH! And Chris also gave me the Mother’s Cookies I won on Twitter last week! Yum yum WOO!

Here’s a short recap video of BarCamp LA 6:

Thanks to all the sponsors and organisers that made it a great weekend!

Late 2008 MacBook Pro “First Touch” Review

Today I went in to an Apple Store and touched the latest model of the MacBook Pro. I’ll begin this by noting that I don’t own the new MacBook Pro, and I only spent about 37 seconds with it. Thus, most of the following will be about the design of the new model.

I must admit, any new model of an Apple product is sexy. The removal of the plastic bordering from the old model makes the new ‘unibody‘ look of a much better build and thus stronger.

The first thing most people will notice is the new keyboard. It’s in the style of the MacBook keyboard and the keys are black. I’m used to the [previous generation] MacBook Pro keyboard, but I think I like this new design better.

MacBookProearly2008-keyboard

MacBookProlate2008-keyboard

One of the most exciting things I find about the new design is the latch-less opening. It’s much more simple than trying to fiddle with that silly button on previous generations. The MacBook seems to have had a lot of the good ideas from the start. Why not the MacBook Pro?

There’s a new trackpad on the latest model made completely from glass. Apple has also removed the trackpad button making it bigger, and turning the whole trackpad in to a button. The feel of the trackpad is different than the previous model too. I noticed that on first-touch. It’s not a lot different, but I noticed it. I like the feel.
I like the feel much better than previous model MacBooks and especially compared to most notebooks running Windows. My mom has an HP notebook. The trackpad is tiny and very slippery/glossy; it’s very hard to get a good ‘grip’ on the cursor.

MacBookProearly2008-trackpad
MacBookProlate2008-trackpad

For the most part, I’m all for the latest technology. Therefore, the fact that the FireWire 400 port was removed and there’s only a Mini DisplayPort doesn’t bother me at all. (If you have a device that uses FireWire 400, you can get cables that are FireWire 400 to FireWire 800.)
All the ports are on the left side of the computer. I’m not sure how I’d feel with both the USB ports being on one side. I like being able to plug USB devices on either side of my [previous model] MacBook Pro. Especially if you have a bulky USB device; it may block other ports on the latest model design.

MacBookProearly2008-portsright

MacBookProearly2008-portsleft

MacBookProlate2008-ports

The Superdrive (disc drive) is on the right side of the body. Just like the previous/current model of MacBooks. I feel the disc drive in this location makes more sense. Especially when the MacBook Pro is on your lap; in previous models the disc drive was at the front and the user would have to make sure there’s room for the disc to escape when ejecting it.

MacBookProlate2008-superdrive

I don’t know how well this new model fans heat away from the CPU because the gap where the air blows out looks much narrower than previous models. Although this could just be an optical illution due to the black hinge attaching the screen to the body. (As I said, I didn’t spend much time with the computer.)

The drilled holes above where the speakers lay are smaller yet more abundant than on the previous model.

MacBookProearly2008-speakers

MacBookProlate2008-speakers

The battery indicator lights have been moved from beneath the computer to the front-left side; making them more noticeable.

MacBookProlate2008-batterylights
Thanks to Corey for this image.

Besides the internal workings, there’s very little difference between the new MacBook Pro and the new MacBook; the MacBook is now also made from recyclable aluminum.
Due to the smaller footprint of the MacBook, it doesn’t have speakers on either side of the keyboard. I couldn’t even locate the speakers during the even more brief look I had of it.

I only got my [previous generation] MacBook Pro May 2007, so I won’t be upgrading to the new model. I may wait for the next big model upgrade. By then SSDs will be much cheaper and larger capacity.

A big thanks to Blake Helms for letting me use his MacBook Pro images on Flickr.

Australia follows USA with tree-killing iPhone bills

iJustine's 300-page iPhone billWe all remember Justine’s first iPhone bill [video] totaling 300 pages in August last year. It resulted in every website imaginable writing something about the story, and AT&T removing itemised data from their bills and allowing customers to opt-in to e-billing/paperless billing.

When Justine’s video was released I’d been using data on my Nokia 6280 for a few months. I used it to access Twitter Mobile and Facebook Mobile while I was away from my computer. It worked for me, but I had a limit of 3MB. When I started going over that, and being charged excess usage by the kilobyte, I had to upgrade to a larger data option. I started paying $14/mo for 20MB of data; with daily access to the aforementioned sites, I could keep within that ridiculous data limit.

The more I used data, the larger my phone bills became. (Prior to my data usage my phone bills would be 3-4 double-sided pages; after I began using data: ~10 double-sided pages.) Yes, every darn kilobyte was mentioned on paper!

Justine’s video inspired me go paperless on all my bills. I rang my bank; they did it over the phone in seconds. I have an old account with 3 Mobile where I only pay for what I use and I never use it, so I get a bill every few months saying ‘$0 due’; I rang them and they did it over the phone in seconds.

Then I rang Optus — the company I have my mobile bill with. Now, I love Optus; I’ve been with them for over 7 years. They told me I had to go to my Optus online account and check a box to get my bill as an e-bill. No problem. I go to sign in and my credentials fail. Okay, so I ring Optus and they reset my password and send the new one to my phone. I try it. Nada; it doesn’t work. I ring them again and they say it could be due to their whole system and website being upgraded; try back later.
I ring back after about a month. Same deal. I have to do it myself. I get Optus to reset my password again. It doesn’t work. Again

I give it another month or two. Same deal.

This goes on for months.

As my trip to the USA got closer and closer, I picked up my game a little; yes, despite my lovely nature, I can get fierce when I want something done. It can’t be done. I tell them “I’m going to America. No one will be home to get my bills (a lie). I need them send to my e-mail!!” They respond with “… privacy act … blah blah … Let me reset your password … rah rah …” UGH!!!!
Okay. So now I’m actually in America and I’ve called them three times (thank you Skype!) only to receive the same old deal: sign in and you can do it. They ask me if I want to reset my password. While I have global roaming ON, the signal seems to suck, so there’s no way I can get the password on my phone.

I ask them why they can’t do this for me. Privacy. I’m on the phone. I WANT YOU TO DO IT. I don’t care if you see the password; rahhh! They can’t send the new password to any other phone number either. They can’t send it to an e-mail. They pretty much suck at life. Oh, and the system is still being upgraded (10 MONTHS LATER).

The other night I called them again about another matter, and decided I might as well see if
they can set up e-billing for me. Nope. Although, this was the first customer representative to actually say “Sorry” (he was sincere too! — I think his name was Melvin; good guy!) for not being able to set up e-billing on my behalf; he can’t break the privacy policy.

Optus, among other carriers, now have the iPhone 3G in Australia. (The original iPhone was never released in Australia, nor will Apple give support for it in Australia.) Wonderful! A year too late, in my opinion, but still wonderful. Optus has the best value plans; offering up to 3GB of data, unlimited voice calls, and unlimited texting for the largest plan. Cheaper Optus plans have between 100MB-700MB worth of data included; Telstra only offers up to 170MB of data; Vodafone charges a lot more for up to 1GB of data; Virgin just announced 5GB of data for $100/mo.

iPhoneTom Piotrowski's 16-page Optus iPhone bill

Back to the environmental issue at hand. My dad showed me this article describing large iPhone bills in Australia due to itemised data.
Who works at these companies? A bunch of narrow-minded twats? If you lived in Australia and even knew about the iPhone prior to it’s official release, you would have known about Justine’s bill-in-a-box. Now Optus and other companies are going to offer paperless billing for the iPhone.

You’d think they’d learn from America’s mistakes, but nope; we’re often just as silly!

Brainstorm: Maybe now that this has been an issue in the news down under, I’ll now be able to get a customer representative to setup paperless billing for my Australian phone (currently suspended and not in use); hopeful thinking.

If not, then I hope they find this post and call me. Bias.

Polyvore

Yesterday, Jackie showed me this service called polyvore; a web-based application for creating collages using images pulled from the web.

Polyvore’s about page states: Polyvore is a unique, easy-to-use web-based application for mixing and matching products from any online store. Items are pulled together into a visual set of products that can be shared with anyone. Each product within the set is then linked back to the online store where it is available for purchase.

It is a lot more than that though. Jackie has been creating unique artworks all day.

Polyvore has an interface very similar to Flickr, so creative Flickr users will feel very much at home.

My polyvore profile.

ScrunchieBack


ScrunchieBack by leggyblonde on Viddler

This is the first post since I officially launched this blog tonight. (For the past six months I’ve been slowly getting this blog looking and working perfectly. Now, I will use it to blog regularly. Giddy!)

Michelle (leggyblonde) is bringing the scrunchie back, and you better watch out because she’s serious!

I remember girls wearing scrunchies in primary school and even some in high school. It seems they’re not that popular outside of school. This fact is sad, because scrunchies are damn hot! Yes, if I was a girl, I’d wear one.

Although I don’t like Justin Timberlake’s music, I definitely thank him for inspiring Michelle to create this video. *Instant fave* and I was lolerskating up and down the stairs in my house.

Lyrics and favouriting available on the video page.

Viddler’s new video page design

Last night I had some trouble accessing various areas on Viddler; namely my dashboard.

After about half an hour everything was back to normal and Viddler now has a new video page design. The most exciting new features — widescreen without letterboxing, faster player loading, new embedding options — are detailed on The Viddler Spotlight.

The very first thing I noticed, though, was how much more it looked like YouTube. I think the only difference between the two now is: Viddler has a larger player, better quality, does better widescreen, and displays the related videos slightly differently. And, yes, if the user allows it, you can download Viddler videos.

While Viddler’s on-site video viewing may make YouTube regulars feel comfortable on Viddler, I think previous designs were better, and people should be used to other video sites being different (in features and design).

The following images show Viddler (left) and YouTube (right) side by side:

ViddlerPost-FAnotlogsmViddlerPost-CClogsm
Not logged in. Viewing widescreen videos. | Logged in. Viewing 4:3 videos.
Click on the images to see full size versions.

As you can see, there isn’t too much difference until you get in close.

I’m not too sure why Viddler’s new design wasn’t shown to Viddlerers (for approval) like the grey bar was.
I admit, I don’t mind the grey bar, but I still would prefer the green one. I love the new features (yay for bug fixes), but I’m not to sure the YouTube design will grow on me.