Blog Archive

25 February 2006

Exclusive: Google Brin Creator

In the same week as releasing Google Page Creator (which was allegedly named after Co-Founder & President of Products, Larry Page) I can exclusively reveal that Google has also been working on Google Brin Creator, presumably named after Co-Founder & President of Technology, Sergey Brin.

Rumour has it that Brin was so upset about not having a service named after him, that he forced some poor Googlers to create the new service as their 20% project. From the website:

Has Google Page Creator let you down?

Are they still unable to offer new accounts due to heavy demand? Is your address already taken? Why don’t you start creating Sergey Brins instead of Larry Pages? They will live on our site at

Google Brin Creator allows users to “create and publish cool, attractive looking Sergey Brins in just minutes” which are then hosted on the domain (rather than the one used by Google Page Creator).

What will they ever think of next?


Update: 24 March 2006 (17:39)
Check it out... someone was inspired by Google Brin Creator and copied it!

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22 February 2006

Judging books, CDs and DVDs by their covers

Chris Riley’s brain was working overtime a few weeks ago. You could almost hear those rusty cogs turning! He was thinking about how he could use Amazon Web Services to power a cool new website. After throwing a few ideas around the office, he someone (probably the other Chris) finally came up with the concept for Judge A Book By Its

The idea’s a simple one: view the covers of books, CDs or DVDs and rate them from one to five stars based purely on how they look. Once you’ve submitted your rating, compare what you and others thought about the cover to the Amazon rating to see if it really is that unreasonable to judge a book by its cover. If you want to see for yourself whether you judged correctly, you can easily click-through to Amazon to buy the book, CD or DVD and make your own mind up.

I prefer the Head to Head! version of the game. It’s much easier to compare two covers and choose which you think is best than it is to rate a cover from one to five. (Sometimes, you’ll be faced with two covers that are so similar that you can’t decide which one gets your vote – but don’t worry, you can always call a draw if that happens!)

There’s more to read in the About & FAQs section of the site and you can keep up to date with the latest news on the site’s blog.

Get judging!

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The Internet's Going Swapping Mad!

First there was File Swap, then there was Sketch Swap and now there’s Question Swap!

File Swap didn’t really appeal to me. I’m lazy, so uploading and downloading files sounded like too much hard work to me. I played Sketch Swap for a bit but quickly realised I was rubbish at it, and since there’s no way to just view what people have submitted or correct your mistakes, I got bored of that pretty easily. (Of course, you could just submit a few squiggles and view a sketch in return – but that’s just creating more effort and must be annoying for the people who moderate all the sketches.)

Question Swap is quite addictive though. You don’t need to find a suitable file from your hard drive, nor do you have to sketch anything; you simply ask one of the thousands of pointless questions that’s probably floating around inside your head right now. In return, you have to answer somebody else’s question, which seems fair enough, and whenever someone answers your question, the response gets emailed to you. Whilst some of the responses can be rubbish, most are usually pretty funny. Check out some of the examples to see what I mean.

Whatever will they be swapping next? Here are some possible ideas:

Any more?

[Via Google Blogoscoped]


20 February 2006

Kit Kat Caramac is Back!

That’s right folks. There’s no need to panic any longer. The Kit Kat Caramac is back and I can’t see any sign of “Limited Edition” on the wrapper! Does that mean they’re here to stay? Only time will tell, but I’ve stocked up on them anyway just in case my new huge Sainsbury’s store starts to ration them to three per customer.

The reason I’m so excited is because the Caramac edition is my all-time favourite Kit Kat variety (although I’m yet to try the Green Tea edition) and it seems like I’m not alone in that opinion. According to Nestlé the “Caramac variant was launched in 2005 and has proved to be our most successful variant to date.”

Anyway, if you’ve read this far you must be pretty interested in Kit Kats and / or my opinion of them, so here’s my Kit Kat chart of the ones I’ve tried (including Chunky and Editions bars):

  1. Caramac
  2. Orange
  3. Peanut Butter (Canadian)
  4. Original
  5. White Chocolate
  6. Seville Orange (Editions)
  7. Chunky
  8. Mint
  9. Dark Chocolate
  10. Red Berry (Editions)
  11. Strawberries & Cream
  12. Christmas Pudding

(Seriously – I’ve never tasted Christmas Pudding like that in my life – and nor do I wish to do so!!!)

For more crazy Kit Kat flavours – including Hokkaido Yubari Melon and White with Hokkaido Milk – be sure to check out the Kit Kat entry on Wikipedia!

Have a break. Have a Kit Kat Caramac!

Update: 24 March 2006 (13:30)
NEWS FLASH!!! Last night I tried a Kit Kat Editions Tiramisu. I hate tiramisu but this wasn’t too bad. I can therefore only assume that it didn’t really taste like tiramisu at all. I’d place it generously between Chunky and Mint in the chart above.

Update: 4 April 2006 (12:50)
FYI – The UK version of the Kit Kat Chunky Peanut Butter is virtually the same as Canadian Peanut Butter Kit Kat and both are very tasty, but only if you like peanut butter, of course...

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15 February 2006

The ‘Magic’ of the Musicals

To celebrate our 6th Valentine’s Day together, I took Suzy to see The Magic of the Musicals starring Marti Webb and Wayne Sleep (I’ve heard of both of them) with some other guy called Robert Meadmore (I’ve never heard of him before and he’s apparently not important enough to have his own entry on Wikipedia either).

The show was generally very good, although the lighting was pretty amateurish in parts. Marti Webb is an excellent singer with an extremely versatile voice; she’s also great at convincing the audience that she’s actually living the part. Wayne Sleep isn’t anywhere near as good, of course, but I suspect he was there primarily for his dancing capabilities rather than his singing voice. Watching the show, it’s obvious that his favourite dance move is the one where he spins around as fast as he can (sometimes on only one leg) as though trying to make himself dizzy – just like primary school kids do in the playground! Maybe I’m missing something, but that doesn’t look too difficult to do. I don’t understand why the audience applauded each time he did it. His tap-dancing was much better.

Robert Meadmore’s singing was okay, but it wasn’t that great in my opinion. He just didn’t seem to empathise with the characters he was supposed to be playing. His voice even caused a bit of distortion and vibrated parts of Sheffield City Hall when he hit certain notes which didn’t help. He was also very keen on promoting his latest album and some of his introductions to the songs were quite annoying.

The backing singers and dancers were entertaining, although one of the blokes looked far too cheesy with his fake tan, huge mouth full of gleaming white teeth and over the top expressions. My sympathy and credit must go to one of the girls who slipped and fell during one of the songs but immediately got back up and carried on – a true professional! (Although a true professional probably shouldn’t have fallen in the first place...)

The live band consisted of eight multi-talented musicians, with a few of them alternating between several instruments throughout the show. Watching the band and listening to the music reminded me of when I used to play the piano and trumpet for the school choir and orchestra, and Bolton Schools Concert Band. In fact, watching the show last night has inspired me to go out and buy some valve-oil and a practice mute so that I can blow my own trumpet again – quite literally!

If I actually manage to get a note out of it, I’ll think about posting some recordings here... so watch this space!

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3 February 2006

Grumpy Old Man

I’m clearly turning into a grumpy old man. Each day something new angers me to the point that I have to have a rant about it to get it out of my system. Today’s Grumpy Levels are extremely high.

First of all, I saw a child that could have been no older than ten or twelve years old throwing his finished cigarette end into the road. I detest smoking at the best of times, but when I see children as young as him smoking that really winds me up. Do his parents even know or care about his habit?

Then, 10 minutes later (before I’d had chance to calm down), I saw a chav at the tram stop open his cigarette packet – yes, this is smoking related too – take out his last cigarette and then drop the empty packet on the floor at his feet. THERE WERE EVEN TWO BINS NO FUTHER THAN 10 METRES AWAY FROM HIM!!! Oh, and as if he needed to wind me up anymore, he had some crap sounding music playing on his mobile phone!

So, you can imagine my joy when I got on the tram, opened the Metro and read about some cock trying to sue Apple because their iPods are ‘inherently defective in design and are not sufficiently adorned with adequate warnings regarding the likelihood of hearing loss’. People like him make my blood boil. The story’s all over the news just because it’s so ridiculous.

I’ve been close to writing letters to the Metro before, but this article actually made me do it. Here’s my take on it:

Dear Mail Metro,

Re: iPod user sues Apple over ‘risk of deafness’

Does John Kiel Patterson (Metro, Fri) lack any common sense or responsibility? The iPod is clearly not a defective or unsafe product. Apple includes a disclaimer explaining that hearing loss is possible if earphones are used at high volumes. If he’s suffered hearing loss as a direct result of using an iPod, then it’s his own incompetence that is to blame. Perhaps he also plans on suing car manufacturers because they allow him to drive his car at 35mph, which means he’s twice as likely to kill someone as he would be at 30mph?

I recently purchased a Sony PSP and was angered to discover that the included headphones were “ear-friendly” and therefore capped at 90dB – which is apparently equivalent to the noise experienced in a loud factory. However, I soon discovered that I was unable to listen to my music on my way to work because the noise of the tram was drowning it out – even at full volume! Does this mean that my daily dose of tram noise is gradually deafening me? Perhaps I should sue...

T Ruscoe

Grumble. Grumble. Grumble.

Update: 7 February 2006 (13:03)
They’ve now had two days to print my letter and it looks like they’ve not going to. Oh well, at least that’s something else I can moan about...

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