PDA with a hard disk

Has anyone seen a PDA with a hard disk? I can’t find one and I think I’d like one. (no I couldn’t afford one anyway).

I think there a couple of reasons I can’t find one. The first is that hard disks probably aren’t brilliantly suited to being bounced around in your pocket in the way people are used to handling PDAs. But hey, the iRiver iHP-140 and the iPod seem OK!

I don’t think size is really a problem any more, the hard disk music players mentioned above are tiny and I believe you can even get 1″ hard disks with a 4Gb capacity!

My guess is that the real problem lies with battery life. Even with power saving features, a battery small enough to power a PDA is likely to have problems keeping a magnetic disk ticking over. I’ve read about the problems that battery life is causing in computing. I’d like to think the solution lies in a complete alternative to batteries in the form of a portable renewable energy source, but now I’m probably asking for too much!

The reason I thought of a PDA with a hard disk was the recent release of media players trying to rival the iPod, including video playback. I wondered if the iPod/iRiver products are merely briding the gap until PDAs can handle better sound quality and much bigger storage. Having an fully fledged operating system (like GNU/Linux :P) running on your portable device has got to be more flexible than firmware upgrades. Why have a separate pocket computer and media player and mobile phone etc. Just a thought.

Talking of renewable energy sources I actually followed a link on a banner ad today which pointed at this page [npower]. I wonder if “Juice – Brought to you by npower and Greenpeace for a renewable future.” would actually be worthwhile signing up to, or if it’s a marketing gimic.

I spent the weekend at lauperr‘s house and we went to wonchop‘s 18th (lurvely pizza :P) and Kes’s little party.

Stranded in the woods, in the dark

Someone (lauperr) thought it would be a great idea to go to the woods, in the dark, to try and spot some night-time animals. So we packed a ruck-sack with a flask of coffee and a blanket, wrapped up warm and found a tree to sit under near the ponds in Bourne Woods. The idea behind sitting near the ponds was that the animals were likely to come to the water to drink during the night as there seemed to be deer tracks leading down to the water. What we didn’t think of was the number of mosquitos that tend to hang around water and love biting unsuspecting human beings who are out of their usual urban habitat.

Anyway, we had brought along with us a brand new “good strong torch” to help us walk about half a mile back to the car once we had finished. On the way I usefully pointed out that the most important thing in going anywhere in the dark is probably to bring a backup torch, which we didn’t have. “Oh it’ll be fine” says the ever optomistic lauperr. From then on, the torch was jinxed.

At around 11pm we had starting to come round to the fact that the only animals we were going to see were the ducks sitting on the pond and the occasional bat swooping over our heads. We heard an owl at one point but we couldn’t hear much else over the constant sound of the crickets. I’m sure there was a small furry mammal trying to creep up on us all the time we were there, but we never saw it.

So, we started to pack our things and just be happy with having a peaceful, romantic time in the woods with a flask of coffee, albeit slightly bitten. I turned on the torch and we started to pack away our things when everything went dark. Completely dark. There was a few seconds silence, even the crickets seemed to shut up for a minute. After a brief conversation in which lauperr established that I wasn’t in fact joking around we started to try to figure out why the torch had cut out. After about 15 minutes of taking the torch apart, putting the battery in all different ways and shaking it around a lot we finally settled on the fact that the bulb had blown. Great.

Luckily my mobile phone, the Nokia 5210 is pretty useless as a phone but not bad as a torch! As a phone it constantly cuts out and has appalling reception everywhere, but if you take the “express-on shells” off the top and bottom to reveal its silver underbelly an array of very bright LEDs is revealed. This small amount of light helped us pack everything away and gradually make our way back to the car. I had to pretend I wasn’t afraid of the dark while we stumbled across uneven ground and lauperr jumped out of her skin when something rustled in the bushes. Finally we made it back to the car, had a quick cup of sweet coffee and made our way back home.

The all important coffee

Darkness setting in

Light Woods
How light it SHOULD be when you
go to the woods (Taken Monday)

Spring Cleaning

That’s odd, LJ just seemed to break for a moment.

I spent most of today cleaning my room. I’m not feeling too guilty about not having done any revision today because having a tidy room tends to motivate me to work, I have no idea why. So hopefully tomorrow will be productive.

I’ve just wasted quite a lot of time making pretty little 150x50px adverts for different web sites to go on the right hand side on hippygeek. I say wasted because as soon as I put them on the page I realised what a stupid idea it was and I’ve replaced them with AdWords style text ads instead! The wasted time means I didn’t quite finish my tidying and my bed is covered in junk which means I currently have nowhere to sleep.

I’ll end this post quickly because I’m still feeling guilty about my monster post yesterday!

First Exam

Today was my first exam, Mechanics 1. The exam went very well, mainly due to about 12 hours of revision yesterday. I’m a bit annoyed that I ran out of time on the last question and didn’t get to answer the second part which I could have done, it was worth about 9 marks! There’s still a chance I got an A in this paper which I really need if I’ve any chance of getting a B overall.

After my exam, lauperr had prepared a picnic for me. She had cooked pasta and baked fairy cakes which contributed to the feast we sat and ate in the woods! YUMMY!

We then went on a two and a half mile walk in the woods to burn it off which was really really lovely. We saw voles, a herd of deer and a herron. A robin flew off with a piece of bread lauperr threw down which was half the size of its body! We also saw a Great Tit which I apparently found more amusing than I should have done… lauperr found a broken birds egg and I made a little parcel for her to keep it in from a doc leaf. Before we left she spotted a snake in the pond in my garden as well. With all of that and yet another visit from the Fox in the garden we’ve seen a lot of wildlife today! I love living around here.

I made an important logo for mum in PSP before setting up two web domains on dev and tralkwww.mtsoundandlight.co.uk and www.bransinteriors.co.uk respectively. It’s a long time since I’ve logged into a Linux shell and that little bit of config hacking was a refreshing change from revision.

Tomorrow I start revising Pure Maths. Fnnrrrgh.

Last days of school

WARNING: This is going to be a long post. It contains details of my last few days at school including numerous parties and childish pranks.


Computing party, lots of junk food and a full blown disco. Two guys were in school testing for places to put access points for Mr C’s proposed wireless network. They were completely baffled to come into an A-level class in Computing and see people playing AOE and eating marshmellows with disco music playing. They were even more baffled when someone dancing to Saturday Night (me) shouted across the room “So, is this 802.11b or 802.11g? Not Centrino I hope!”

It was even worse when they were introduced to our water feature. They were also fed marshmellows by lauperr, as were any other random passers by. At one point Mr A came in (future deputy head) and asked if there was any room for his physics class in the IT department. Mr M kindly explained that this was in fact his yeaer 13 Computing lesson so there wasn’t, to which he replied “So all of the rooms are chock-a-block then?”. “Yup” says Mr M as Mr A glances across the room to see only 6 computers being used… for AOE. He wasn’t a happy bunny.

djkoa‘s car was wrapped in cling film, as was Charlie who was escorted to her lesson before being released. Very amusing. djkoa and I also hid a ladder in a skip (very important).


Had a party in DT where my classmates invented a new game where a celebrations chocolate acts as a ball hit with the celebrations box and all the other players have to catch the “ball” in a plastic cup. If they catch it, they get to bat.

Later on djkoa and I walked out to the front of school in broad daylight with a ladder and made some very important measurements.

Before leaving school I took it upon myself to swap all the keyboards in Mr C’s room with the computer next door, turn the chairs upside-down in the office and swap round the monitors of two servers.

FRIDAY – The last day of school.

I got up.

I got a phone call from djkoa telling me he overslept and would be at mine at 4:30. No suprise there then 😉

Off we go to school, me dressed all in black, djkoa in his traditional muck-up day kit. We jump the school wall and creep through the car park in double quick time, trying to spot the security guard and dog, no sign of them except a security car parked inside the perimeter fence.

So next to the skip where we cunningly hid a ladder two days before. This was noisier than was hoped as a lot of junk had been heaped on top of it. Still no sign of a security guard we make a dash to the front of school and up goes the ladder.

djkoa passes me the vinyl sticker of the letter E he had printed the day before using the all important measurements and I begin to stick it down using a steel rule, occasionally jumping off the ladder to hide from passing cars. djkoa then moves in with his knife to pop a few air bubbles and do the final smoothing down. We take a few pictures then dash off to replace the ladder. A quick wave to the CCTV camera we just KNOW is either a dud or isn’t recording and off we go to jump in the getaway vehicle. It was over. Now to wait and see how long it will last…

More pictures will be posted here shortly.

We went back to my house and ordered a domain name for djkoa. I then had a couple of hours sleep.

The revised sign on the front of the school had lasted until the morning. As amusing as they found it, senior management decided that the letter E had to go and set their best brains on the tast, Mr L the assistant caretaker. Now as much as we love this guy he does occasionally do stupid things. Instead of carefully peeling off the sticker with the aid of white spirit like we had planned, he took it upon himself to use a wallpaper scraper and furniture polish. The result was that the “A” underneath the “E” was partially scraped off. OOPS, now we’re in trouble.

Next was double maths with fractions bingo and coffee, interrupted briefly by a conga of sixth form down the corridoor followed close behind by poor Mrs P (head of sixth form) who was closing all the doors behind them.

djkoa had the fantastic idea of giving the staff room a disco. He placed one of the speakers from the school sound system on the fire escape stairs outside IT just above the open staff room window and rigged it up to his disco equipment. The staff were then treated to his cheesy disco music. lauperr and I made a large card board cow which we dangled in front of the window and made MOOing sounds into the microphone. Fantastic.

Next was the farewell assembly from the head of sixth form and the head teacher. I think the deputy head, Mr L, was too choked up to speak as he is also leaving this year. The speeches were traditionally boring in places, but some of it was genuinely touching and there were tears in the hall. The head handed his hankey to someone at the front, aww.

But then came our moment of glory. Dr M (the head) said that it was a good job that he had the architect in that morning. They were discussing a re-design of the front of the school. The reason this was a good thing was that the sign at the front had recently been defaced. I gave djkoa a nudge and we stood up to take a bow. There were cheers and applause. The head then went on to say that the local paper had rung him asking him if he knew that the front of the school had been defaced. He said yes. They had asked if he knew who had done it. He said no. But now he knew! Oops.

Towards the end of the speech Dr M joked that if anyone wanted to email him, remember that his name is spelt Stuart, not Stuert and the school’s name is spelt Grammar, not Grammer. Hehehe.

We stopped afterwards to talk to staff and were congratulated on our “intelligent” prank. It seemed the staff were not in fact annoyed about it all, they were impressed! They were also very thankful for the disco we gave them – “It’s the best break we’ve had in ages!”. Even Dr A was impressed with our prank.

The head was suprisingly understanding as we apologised for the permenant 😉 damage. Everyone was collecting signatures and farewell wishes in little books, but lauperr decided to be different and collected hugs instead. Both me and lauperr got a hug from the head! w00t!

lauperr and I arrived at the pub to start our theoretical 13 hours of drinking. We started in Smiths but moved on when Charlie’s age was questioned. Mr T had dropped in for a quick beer amusingly. Good old chap! We then went off to the Angel. A few hours later people went home for their tea and after getting bored bumming around town lauperr and I nipped to my house for a quick kip followed by a mini hangover. Ick. A pizza soon got us back on our feet and back to the pub we went. Mr M and his wifey were there and we had another drinking sesh. After they had left Mr and Mrs C turned up to join the party. Mr C was confronted by an amusing drunk as laupperr described

We bid farewell to Mr and Mrs C after failing to convince them to come to Lesters Nightclub with us. It was a good job really because we didn’t get in. They wouldn’t let lauperr in without ID, despite having done so many many times before. To add insult to injury, during my refund they short changed me by £10!! I went back the next morning to claim it back, but they weren’t having any of it. Bar Stewards. This is particularly annoying as lauperr has a private party booked there in a couple of months.

I think this post is big enough, let’s start a new one.

Water Feature

Finally I get the chance to add pictures of the water feature in the IT rooms at school. For anyone who hasn’t follwed the story there was quite severe leak in the roof which involved ceiling tiles and water falling on top of a bunch of year 10s and their computers. Once the computers were safely moved out of the way, we decided it would make an attractive addition to the decor of the room.

Photos by black_wraith

Yes that is a “No Fishing” sign, genuine pond weed, a bamboo plant, a frog, ducks, chicks and decorative marble chips. The sign says “Year 13 water feature project”.

Yes they are mains sockets and ethernet sockets you can see and yes there is still water dripping all around that area. Several members of senior management have seen our attractive water feature project and had mixed feelings I think.

Amongst other strange goings on is a sofa which has appeared at the local park. Every day I go past it has moved. I can’t help but remember the part in H2G2 when a sofa kept appearing a field and have been tempted to jump on it to see if I get whisked into a parrallel dimension.

I briefly signed up to Black Nova Traders on iMen. I read all the FAQs and the beginners guide then starting browsing the galaxy quite a lot to get some raw data for an idea I had for mapping sectors and links. Unfortunately I accidentally followed a link to a sector with no link back at one point and got lost in the middle of the galaxy. I started to try to find my way home when I looked at the clock and noticed two hours had passed. For my own good I decided to plunge my ship (called hog (Heart of Gold)) into a sector full of fighter ships who quickly destroyed my ship. Phewf, I knew there was a reason I don’t play those games.

lauperr and I went to see a lovely blue and white VW camper for sale today. The type 2s aren’t as tall as I thought, they’re very cute. It was in pretty good condition but unfortunately they wanted nearly seven grand for it.

Excluding exams today was my last Monday at school, ever.

Webby awards

I’ve been having problems getting on to livejournal.com this evening. I don’t know if it has anything to do with them winning a webby award. Talking of webby awards, I’ve just been looking over the nominations and there’s someinteresting stuff there.

Particular web sites of interest include map24 – some neat software similar to multimap.com but cooler. iTunes won a couple of awards which I have mixed feelings about. I’m pleased that HowStuffWorks.com, Google and wikipedia got a look in.

But my personal favourite has to be The Access Project. This project won the webby award for net art and I love this kind of quirky thing. From the web site:

ACCESS is a public art installation that applies web, computer, sound and lighting technologies in which web users track individuals in public spaces with a unique robotic spotlight and acoustic beam system. The robotic spotlight automatically follows the tracked individuals while the acoustic beam projects audio that only they can hear. The tracked individuals do not know who is tracking them or why they are being tracked, nor are they aware of being the only persons among the public hearing the sound. The web users do not know that their actions trigger sound towards the target. In effect, both the tracker and the tracked are in a paradoxical communication loop.

They describe the result as artwork and I’m willing to go with that. Seeing as a breeze block with bird poo on it qualifies for art these days I think this more than gets the title. I think it’s thought provoking and clever and it weirded me out just watching it. The creators say they aim to raise awareness of “surveillance, detection, celebrity, and their impact on society”.

Moving on…

Me, djkoa and lauperr had our lunch in the park today, largely to give djkoa some fresh air because he stayed up ALL night finishing his Computing coursework! Laura fed the ducks and it was nice to be outside. Mr C didn’t crack as I thought he would 😛

lauperr and I went to feed the ducks (and evil nasty black swans) this evening as well then went for a drive. We saw a barn owl and a hodgeheg 😛

I’m getting increasingly bitter about the dates for Bourne Festival. During a dinner with the organisers, the Round Table, months and months ago, djkoa and I along with a friend,Libby, brought up the point that the festival is right in the middle of AS level and A-level exams and possibly before the GCSEs finish. This means the festival will be excluding a LOT of teenagers in Bourne which is just not fair. djkoa and I both helped out Nick Gomm with the sound and lighting for about five days which was lots and lots of fun! This year we can’t help out and I’ve found out tonight that Nick still doesn’t have any commited help for this year. Hopefully next year I will have the time to commit and I’ll be able to do it again.

Not wanting to end on a negative note, let’s think of something else. I signed up toe Friends Reunited today, perhaps a little prematurely. Looking at the page about Bourne Grammar I’m already getting nostalgic and I haven’t even left yet! I’m planning on putting up notices to encourage our year group to sign up so we can keep in touch. Only a week to go.

Friends Reunited have this cool system for making an avatar called weemee. This is mine:

Finished Computing Coursework

It’s done. The last piece of coursework I will ever do at this school. Over. Just under 100 pages. So, on to the next thing then, maths I think.

bouncykaz just showed me this animation which is pretty funny. The end is nigh.

lauperr made me smile a lot today. She randomly took Penny for a walk which was one of the things. She also bought me some milk… damn I forgot to give her her £4 back for the folder. She’s been reading my copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy again, hope she finishes it soon caus I want to read it again!

djkoahas finally start to come round to the fact that kewlistic radio are a bunch of incompetent, offensive fools. this may have something to do with it!

mchicago is having a VERY important interview – hope it goes well.

Google started an official blog using their newly aquired toy, blogger.com which has seen a makeover to its site. Still doesn’t really compete with LiveJournal in my view though. Better name though 😛

wonchop had his 18th today, woooo! look forward to the party.

aaaand now I must go to bed.