Google Calendar: buy it now!

Actually, you don’t have to. It’s free!

I’ve been registered to use it for ages, but only tonight (thanks to Elise) have I been exposed to its true wonders.

And here’s the key reason: it sends you SMS reminders for your meetings for free. That is the killer part of the app. I’m sure I’ll come to love its other features too, but this was the feature that tipped me from "yeah, it’s OK" to "I need to use that".

I love that. I absolutely love that!

How to drill square holes

I’ve never thought about this before, but here’s the logic behind a drill bit that drills square holes.

A piece of geometric poetry.

The Milky Bars most certainly are not on me

This lunchtime I paid £0.49 for a Milky Bar. And it wasn’t even for me!

Next time anyone wants a Milky Bar, buy your own.

Best ever conference phone

In my current job, I think the office conference phone is the Polycom Soundstation 2. It does the job, but it’s not a patch on a phone we used in a previous job.

The Soundstation 2 is made of a seemingly cheap, black plastic, and it has hard edges. The one we used to use had a lovely graphite grey colour, made of a slightly forgiving composite with a lovely curvy design. It was as iconic as those Herman Miller Aeron chairs.

New things aren’t always better.

I love Newcastle

I love Newcastle. I visited on business today, my first trip there since graduating twelve years ago. Yikes!

My visit was fleeting. The 7am train pulled into Central Station at 10am, having ventured past the Angel of the North and across the Tyne, from which I got a welcome glimpse of the best bridge in the world (Tyne Bridge) and my first sight (albeit distant) of the Millennium Bridge and the Gateshead Arts Centre. I walked up to the Monument, getting sight of the Gallowgate End of St. James’s Park, and reminisced.

Then on to the Metro out to Longbenton for a productive set of meetings. Swiftly back to Central Station for the 3.55pm train home. Arrival time to London King’s Cross: 7.30pm. Will be home by 8.15pm.

Highlights of the day were finding out that mobile reception is alive and well deep underground on the Metro (sort it out, London!) and being asked by a Geordie school-kid whether they could buy a tab from me.

I love Newcastle.

Laws: waking times

There should be laws against having to wake up at any time beginning with a five or less.

This morning, I woke at 5.35am, am now waiting for my 7am three-hour Newcastle-bound train to depart, and it’s still pitch black; and it will be for some time.

This coupled with the exorbitant price of coffee in King’s Cross station (£1.95 for the cheapest large coffee) has put me in a grumpy mood.

Fractional millions

Just a point of clarification.

1,500,000 should be read "one and a half million", not "one million and a half". The latter would equate to 1,000,000.5



If you have a keyboard with a Windows key, you may or may not know that it can be used in a couple of useful shortcuts.

What annoys me is that the former takes way too long, much longer than the traditional method of right-clicking the Start button. Not sure why, but it’s annoying.

Leaves, Newquay and downloads

This afternoon, I made a second attempt at clearing the leaves that have taken over our garden. The trees looked sufficiently bereft of foliage to give me confidence that they wouldn’t be able to destroy my efforts, as happened previously.

The leaf-sucker was next to useless as the leaves were all wet, and I spent more time unclogging it than sucking up leaves. So I resorted to the rake and manual transfer of leaves from ground to sack.

It’s a disheartening task. No matter how much you’ve done, the amount of leaves left strewn always appears inordinately high. It would be good if you could get an estimated finish time (somwhat like downloads), based on your rate of progress to date.

Our parents used to take us to Newquay most Octobers when we were kids. The journey from Yorkshire took a ridiculous length of time (about eight hours?) and I remember trying to rationalise the journey’s length in my head. I used to argue that "I’m sure people have never taken over 24 hours for this journey, so that’s our upper cap", and then try to further whittle it down to progress from the superlative pessimism. I had similar arguments going on in my head today.

I’ve probably cleared 70% of the leaves. The law of diminishing returns has kicked in, and I think a further 10% would take the same length of time again. I think I’ll wait until the remaining 30% dry up before sucking them up.

Joel’s on repeat

I used to be a big fan of Joel on Software, Joel Spolsky’s web offering. Over the last year or so, he’s gone down in my estimation for a number of reasons.

His repeated topics of note include the inadequate UE of the Windows operating system, how to recruit, his company’s various products, Internships, and the importance of understanding programming concepts over specific languages.

That doesn’t detract from the importance of reading his book.

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