Category Archives: computing

Google Maps, nicknames and “The town so nice they named it twice”

Walla Walla, Washington

The town so nice, they named it twice

My friend Ann emailed me the other day to ask whether I could give her any tips on travelling overland from Toronto to Boston in April.  I’ve done Montreal to Boston before, taking the Greyhound after recovering from a case of La varicelle and suffering acid reflux from eating 3 tomatoes and an orange before getting on the bus. Therefore, I looked distinctly dodgy at the US border, which coming soon after 9/11 wasn’t really the best look in front of the armed US Immigration Officers.

I haven’t done T.Dot to Beantown before though. Which brings me to the title of my post.

I went to Google Maps to see how far apart Toronto and Boston are…and for some reason I thought “I wonder what happens when I type “T Dot” in.  T Dot being a nickname for Toronto. Lo and behold…

T Dot

T Dot

This set off a chain of events where I discovered that typing certain nicknames for cities into GMaps zoomed immediately into the city in question.

For example:

This may be old news, however I couldn’t find any previous references to this Google Easter Egg…so I now have high hopes that this post is going to be my new Exenger/Fakenger article…i.e my most popular post!

Can youse find any more? Let me know in the comments.

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Nice things about Oxford. Pt 1 – Port Meadow in summer




So I’m literally sitting no more than 500m from my flat, by the River Thames, connected thanks to a 3G USB dongle, attached to my Macbook. Summer finally decided to grace us with its presence, it’s 21ºC and I just had a beer with Mr B. at the Jericho Tavern. I am watching some kids try and retrieve their disposable BBQ from the water…having dropped it in by mistake.  Ducks are quacking, cows are grazing, kids are swimming and folks are walking.  It’s nice…and it’s not raining!!


WordPress app for iPhone

First post with the WordPress app for iPhone. Seems generally usable but basic.

Could do with a couple of tweaks as I deleted my first attempt because I could swear the UI wasn’t showing me the Save button! The ability to add a photo would be a good thing but that could have something to do with the way apps are built i.e the WordPress app probably can’t directly interact with the photo app.

Edit- I’m blind. You can upload photos. My mistake. Here is one of my neighbour AKA “Phlegm man”



Interestead (sic) in swapping bodies??

I went to a Yahoo! Answers page when looking for info about the New York to Toronto train route…which is another, less interesting story.

How could I not click on a link that asked “Interestead in swapping bodies??” ?? The best line..

“Will consider any person, would love to try this with a woman older BIG HIPS OR BOOTY”

Original page on Yahoo! Answers

Interestead in swapping bodies??

Patronizing the musical arts with an iPod Touch


Went down to the Gardeners Arms on Thursday night to patronize the arts. The acts playing at this low-key, semi-acoustic musical evening in the back room were Ben, Stornoway and Jont Whittington (the custodian of the whole Unlit acoustic evening). What happens is Jont roams around, putting on shows in the living rooms (or in the this case, the back room of a pub) of people who sign up on the Web. Read about it at the BBC Radio 2 site.

I had my mobile phone and my iPod Touch at the ready. You can see one a couple of the photos I took in this post. During the performances, as I sat on the bar billiards table a the side of the room, I made some notes using the new Notes application for the Touch.

I admit, I was a little peeved to have to pay £12.99 to download Apple’s January update…but I gotta say the notes app is very good. When I got home, I emailed the note to myself and you can see the results here:

Jon T. Slightly earnest but still not bad really.
Ben is Folds-esque sometimes. The Dressing Up song is fun. So is the
Living Legend one. Self aware.

The new Stornoway stuff sounds good. Actually, I can’t even begin to
put into words how good I think they are in general.

The Jont Peace song is a bit Manu Chao in its cadence at the start. His CD is
called Supernatural. Also reminds me of Jason Anderson at Freuds a
while back…complete with audience participation.

Very high standard, low key night with an appreciative audience of
about fifty people.

Sent from my iPod Touch

I’m getting pretty good at typing with the Touch’s keyboard.

I never wanted an iPod before the Touch came out. It is living up to its promise. Music is ironically one of the things I use the least…wifi rocks, multitouch rocks, Safari is nice, video on boring train journeys a boon. Mail looks promising…Contacts and iCal are pretty good too. I could live without the Weather and Youtube apps…as for the Stocks app…meh.

I really am becoming quite Mac-ified these days…my Touch and my Macbook at home and also a newly acquired Macbook at work as well. Back in the OS 7-9 days, I used Macs quite a bit at university on the newspaper and also the defunct fanzine that I helped to run. Later, I used a Mac with my left hand and a Windows machine with my right for (differing) work purposes but had a bit of a hiatus from Mac computing for several years, since leaving Australia.

Anyhow, musn’t forget to get a ticket for Stornoway’s next gig at the Jacqueline du Pre Music Room on the 26th with the rather good The Epstein , North Sea Radio Orchestra and Stuti Mehta.

The next Stornoway gig

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Jumping the shark?

Has Facebook Jumped the shark? May I present you with this photo that I took on Friday morning at the WH Smith newsagent at Edinburgh Waverley train station…

…or is it more like “dancing about architecture“? I can’t decide.
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Flickr Stats AKA Sex Sells

Swedish Samba dancer

I joined Flickr some time in 2005 (old skool!) and became a Pro member soon after that. After a year of Pro, I bought another 2 years to take me up to the start 0f 2009 and I have never regretted this decision one bit.

They recently introduced a Stats page so you can see how many views your photos have been getting as well as the referring source of the view. I’ve got just over 2000 photos on Flickr which have been viewed about 90,000 times in total. So on average, that’s about 45 views per photo.

The photo at the top of this post was uploaded to Flickr in November 2005. The photo below was uploaded in October of the same year. Currently, they have 4530 and 4303 views respectively. In the Long Tail of my Flickr Photostream, these two are definitely at the very left of the graph.

il tuo stimolatore magnetico naturale

I’ve only managed to appear transiently in Flickr’s Explore a couple of times. Currently a photo of some moo stickers is my only representative.

Although it would be nice to take some photos that consistently appear in Explore, I don’t really mind too much if they don’t. I can’t be arsed, nor do I have the time to try gaming the Flickr “interestingness” system and I rather like the concept of the Photostream anyway.

That’s not to say that I put any old crap up there…I do usually go through a selection process and sometimes, I even bother to do some cropping and post-processing!  Some of my photos are not too bad, I think.

Anyhow, I anticipate that in the days ahead my blog stats will spike dramatically…similar to what happened when I posted about my take on the Fakenger phenom. Posting some photos of semi-naked women will probably replicate that times 10! I might report back on it in Sex Sells Pt 2?

Chow for niao.

PS – my most viewed Flickr photo that doesn’t feature scantily clad females in a g-string/thong is my photo of the Glass Elevator in the Apple Store in Regent St. I’m not sure why though…pretty average shot.

My most “interesting” photo is the Spoke Cards photo of the messenger spoke cards I have/had in the front wheel of my fixie.

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I’m about to defect to WordPress

Exodus II from the photostream of _mpd_ . Reused under a Creative Commons licence

Sorry Blogger, even after you released “New Blogger” and I created a new version of Platform 3…the blog on there and played around with it, I am still going to jump ship.

As I mentioned in a previous post I’ve had my eye on WordPress for a while…using one for work purposes. I have also set one up for another purpose and have found that I like it more than Blogger.

Here is what Platform3…the blog looks like after being exported onto I think it looks better and it also has functionality that in my opinion is more advanced in many ways than Blogger. What do you think???

Now if only I can get Bruce, my hosting provider to install WordPress on the server at so I can have better customisation…I have grown to like Google Analytics. I will have to buttonhole him at his wedding this coming Thursday and get him to install it when the dust dies down. and the sectarian internet

Hockney-ised Upcoming sign

I use and like, a social events calendar site. I logged in today to check out their new look n feel and hopefully improved usability because of the added “shiny bits” and features. More about that in a future post.

It seems that I have a knack of joining sites that end up getting acquired by Yahoo! It all started back in the day when I started an group to catalogue my travels. This of course, morphed into Yahoo! Groups. More recently, I joined Flickr which then was gobbled up by the Yahoos…ditto with

It happened once again with Upcoming. I joined the site in October 2005 having also experimented with EVDB (now Eventful) and Evite. Having started out as a few guys coding the site in their spare time, there was definitely a bare-bones, just enough feel about the site but there was something je ne sais quoi about the site that made me feel that they were on the right track.

Soon after I joined Upcoming, they became part of Yahoo! but it has taken until now for the full effect of this to become apparent. One of the main things that seems to strike a nerve with people is that you have to merge your Upcoming authentication details (i.e username and password) with a Yahoo! ID. A similar process kicked up a storm (in a teacup IMO) over at Flickr earlier this year. It seems some folk can’t handle the fact that they are now less old skool or that they are now part of a faceless corporation.

Change is difficult. Some people actively embrace change but more often, people find change difficult, particularly when it is imposed upon them. Even if a site is free, they are attached (often emotionally) to such things as screen names. They care about the site which means they care about their identity on that site.

One thing that I have also noticed is an almost sectarian mentality that people have about websites. This sometimes manifests itself between adherents of Google and its many and varied services and the acolytes of Yahoo! Examples of such dichotomies abound through history and continue today…viz. Pepsi/Coke, Protestants/Catholics, Mods/Rockers, Shias/Sunnis, Campagnolo/Shimano, OS X/Windows….hmm maybe that’s drawing a longbow!?

In a way its a good sign for the site’s developers that people are passionate about the sites they use. My opinion? It doesn’t have to be so dichotomous!!!

So, just because I like Upcoming and use Yahoo! Mail as my primary web mail doesn’t mean that I don’t like Google…I’m using Blogger, a Google “property” to write this blog post! I also regularly use Picasa and Picasa Web Albums, You Tube, maps and of course search. I am thinking of switching to Word Press at some point and I’m keeping a close eye on the open source media player/browser mash-up, Songbird too. I sometimes contemplate using one of my various gmail addresses as my primary address but have decided against it for now.

Congratulations on reaching the end of this rambling post!

Platform 3. Now XFN friendly!

This blog is now XML Friends Network friendly. Read more about Microformats

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