Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Computer Geek / Nerd Quiz

My computer geek score is greater than 80% of all people in the world! How do you compare? Click here to find out!

My computer geek score is greater than 80% of all people in the world! How do you compare? Click here to find out!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Sentry Gun

How We Built the Quintessential Sentry Gun The idea of this project was to create a fully-automated sentry gun, capable of picking out a human target and accurately tracking and shooting him or her in the heart. Really, the idea was to find a cool robotics project for the summer while I was working at an advertising agency, and I'd only ever seen sentry guns in movies (like Congo) and video games (Half-Life 1, Half-Life 2, Team Fortress Classic).

Friday, September 16, 2005

Migrate from Pegasus Mail to Thunderbird

I finally took the plunge and migrated my mail from Pegasus to Thunderbird.

Unfortunately this was not as straightforward as I had hoped. However I did find a relatively simple solution.
  1. Go through your mail and delete any messages that have large attachments. This will speed up the process greatly.
  2. Copy all your message folders (*.PMM) to a machine that is running *nix. Messages are located by default at C:\PMAIL\MAIL\yourusername\
  3. Download the following file pmail2mbox.c and then compile it.
    gcc pmail2mbox.c -o pmail2mbox
  4. Place the result pmail2mbox file in the same folder as the PMM files.
  5. Change to that directory then run the following command.
    for mailbox in `ls *.PMM`; do ./pmail2mbox -s $mailbox; done
  6. This will convert all the mailboxes into mbox format.
  7. All you need to do now is copy the resulting files into the Thunderbird mail directory. e.g. C:\Documents and Settings\yourusername\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\4zhmyze7.default\Mail\Local Folders
Fire up thunderbird and all your new messages will be displayed. There's a little bit of tweaking to be done, like copying the copiestoself messages into the sent folder.

You'll need to migrate your signature as well. Create a text file in c:\program files\thunderbird\ that contains your signature. Select Tools -> Account Settings -> the name of the account on that screen you can then point to your signature file.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Matchbox 20 Sounds Like Del Amitri

My colleague recieved his copy of the latest Matchbox 20 album today. One of the tracks "If You're Gone" sounds just like Del Amitri's "Always the Last to know".

Monday, September 12, 2005

Unusual Vegetables

I went to visit my parents this weekend and my mother served up some interesting vegetables. Romanesco

and Purple Cauliflower

Friday, September 09, 2005

Slashdot | Balmer Vows to Kill Google

I read this article on Slashdot and it brought a smile to my face.

An anonymous reader writes "Probably due to the Microsoft suit against Google over human resources, some very heated exchanges have turned up in some court documents. Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer has apparently vowed to kill Internet search leader Google, according to documents filed in the increasingly bitter battle between the rivals." From the article: "At some point in the conversation, Mr. Ballmer said: 'Just tell me it's not Google,'' Lucovosky said in his statement. Lucovosky replied that he was joining Google. 'At that point, Mr. Ballmer picked up a chair and threw it across the room hitting a table in his office,' Lucovosky recounted, adding that Ballmer then launched into a tirade about Google CEO Eric Schmidt. 'I'm going to f***ing bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I'm going to f***ing kill Google.' Schmidt previously worked for Sun Microsystems and was the CEO of Novell."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

@Wales PR Marketing Masterclass

Last night I went to a very interesting marketing masterclass. It was organised by the @Wales WDA funded group.

The 4 speakers were all very informative, entertaining and spoke very well. The buffet was lovely chinese food, spring rolls, seaweed etc.

Matthew Yeomans -

His company helps businesses set up their own blogs. The company has more a role in advising of content and why they should get blogs rather than actually providing them.
He points his customers in the direction of suitable solutions for their requirements. As most of his talk was about blogs and their effectiveness there wasn't really anything we weren't already aware of.

The main point of his talk was that blogs give everyone an online, and thus available to the world, voice. Because blogs can be updated quickly and easily via a webbrowser it makes this much easier.

I went up to him at the end to ask him what RSS reader he uses as his job is reading RSS news feeds. bloglines was the answer, web based so that he can read anywhere.

Sion Barry - Business Editor - Western Mail
Very interesting and some extremely helpful suggestions!
126K readers of western mail. 46 business pages per week.

To make a press release stand out it needs to fulfil the following

  • new (if it happened 5 months ago it's not news, new is anything since the last publication)

  • relevant (if it's for a welsh newspaper it help if an element of something welsh is in there)

  • of interest (go to be newsworthy, will the readers be interested)

Main things to think of when writing a price release

  • start with the important bits to get the journalist interested

  • avoid jargon, even journalists for techincal publications might not understand jargon

  • use full names and titles e.g. John Jones Managing Director of Tin Bashers Ltd rather than "Mr Jones said...." Mr Jones could be the cleaner

  • Short sentences

  • Quotes are helpful

  • Background info at the end. Also known as editors notes. Can include technologies
    used described in laymans terms, company history, turnover

After writing and submitting a press release what happens next.

  • Press release is published in paper. It is very likely to have been edited. The journalists know the style of writing that their readers like.

  • OR Contact by journalist for more information, important to have someone prepped to take these type of calls

  • OR Nothing! If a larger story has come in at the last minute your press release may well get bumped. If its not relevant etc.
    It's reasonable to ring up and ask for feedback and tips on how to improve the press

- Pictures can help but must be of a style relevant to the publication
They have to be interesting, it is worth getting a proffessional photographer in to take a good shot. If sending photos it's important to include captions.

Basheera Khan - Editor -

Pingwales is a welsh IT news web based publication. The only one in Wales.

A website should be a useful tool for all visitors. From the perspecitve of a journalist it should have
- named contacts and photos. This removes the faceless organisation look from the site.

  • Who - who are we, CV's of directors or key employees

  • What - what do we do

  • Why - why are we doing it, other than pure commercial reasons

  • When - any events coming up

  • Where - where are we based, where are our products used

  • How - how does it work, brief explanation without giving away too many techincal

  • So what? - what makes it different from others

Have a media kit area of the site that contains things like

  • reference material, white papers, surveys etc

  • news updated regularly, all press releases etc

  • bits and bobs, anything interesting e.g. office in australia, boss is windsurf champion

  • Rich Media Content, if explaining how it works takes too many words and a flash movie would be better do it. The journalist can put it into words.

If this information shouldn't be visible by all add a login area and allow journalists to register. If they register we know they're serious and also collect the useful contact details of journalists.

Mailshot regularly, include journalists on any mailshots of updates to your system. Allow for people to sign up for mailshots. Offer news via rss, mailshot and sms in addition to being on the site. Variety encourages more people.

Games. Nothing like games on the site to get people on there and staying there for a

Keep reminding the press, it's an ongoing process not a one off press release.

Michael Nutley - Editor - New Media Age

Trade publication. Different from newspapers.
Content has to be Relevant!
Build a relationship with Journalists, feature editors, other editors etc If you are on familiar terms with the person who is responsible for your sector then they are more likely to get it published or at least explain why not.

The letters page is a good way to get publicity, many magazines get so few letters that they will publish all that are sent in. If you have something insightful, slightly controversial to say then it might be worth writing a letter to the editor.

No Jargon. Even techincal publications may not know all the jargon.

Ensure that all press releases are sent via email. The subject line should not be flowery marketing speak but something to get the attention of the recipient.