Geek 2.0

posted 26 May 2006 09:35 byDerek Lakin:: 4 Comments 
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These days if you've got a new(ish) idea then it's got to be Something 2.0. SOA 2.0, Web 2.0, and so on. It doesn't necessarily mean it's really new, but there's a new spin to it. Well last night I think we came up with Geek 2.0!

James Governor was kind enough to invite me down to London for a Web 2.0 chat with a few other people. Mysyteriously there wasn't a geek pride T-shirt in sight (at first :P), we were all dressed in a smart casual fashion, and there was no schwag either, just lot's of red wine.

We all travalled down to Bedale's Wineshop just up the road from Liverpool Street station (the one we were at isn't on their web site, but James is there a lot!) and by mutual consensus starting with some red wine and didn't change. We started with a "Fat pino", moved on to a "Really fat pinot" (James' descriptions, not mine), whose name's escape me, but they were both from New Zealand (i'm a bit of peasant when it comes to wine, but I like it!), though one was called "Shaky Bridge". After that came a 1982 Chateau Neuf du Pape, which I think was the one that smelt of leather! There was another French wine after that, which I think cost about £35 per bottle and was actually very nice :D

Besides all the very nice wine, I did have a really good time. There were some really great people there from Microsoft, Adobe, IBM and more besides. We didn't talk about anything specific and there was no agenda, but we did all have a good chinwag and enjoyed the wine.

So, my thanks to James for the invite and his excellent choices of wine. Thanks must also go to Ben Watson from Adobe, who actually paid for it all! Thanks for the conversation to Peter Bell (Developer Relations at Microsoft), Roo, Darren, and Rob (all Emerging Technologies at IBM, have a very nice looking blog called eightbar and original lucky charms shapes, and have a bizarre fascination with the virtual world Second Life). Tink and a few others were also there, but I didn't much chance to chat with them. Maybe next time.

All in all we had a good time, great wine, and a good tech chat. The only schwag I ended up was an invitation to Stringfellows in Soho from a girl outside Liverpool Street station, but for me this is the way forward for geek meets. Forget your geek pride T-shirts and bring out the wine!


SQL Prompt - Intellisense for SQL Server

Those clever guys over at Red-Gate have been at it again. This time with SQL Prompt, an add-in for SQL Server that gives you Intellisense code completion.

"SQL Prompt provides Intellisense®style auto-completion for Microsoft SQL Server editors. It will tellyou the exact formatting you should use for your SQL commands, whileyou are writing them and will therefore help you write fast, perfectly formatted  SQL statements. SQL Prompt improves the productivity of all SQL script creation. SQL Prompt can be downloaded   free until 1st September 2006 and we are providing forum support on the SQL Prompt support forum."

Features include :

  • Table/View name completion
  • Column name completion
  • Stored procedure name completion 
  • USE completion
  • JOIN/JOIN ON completion
  • Auto-uppercasing of keywords
  • Auto-popup after keywords
"SQL Prompt works with Microsoft Query Analyzer, SQL Server 2005Management Studio, Visual Studio 2005, Visual Studio .NET 2003, SQLServer 2000 Enterprise Manager, UltraEdit32. Please note thatIntellisense is a registered trademark of the Microsoft Corporation, wehave a dedicated web page describing Red Gate's relationship with Microsoft."
Just trying out this kick counter from DotNetKicks as well:  

Spore at E3

posted 11 May 2006 09:48 byDerek Lakin:: 0 Comments 
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The guys at Electronics Arts/Maxis have been giving a demo of the much anticipated new game from Will Wright: SPORE. IGN have a download of the video of the demo given at E3 and it is awesome! It shows off the game selection screen, where you choose which of the 6 levels to start playing, from the Tide Pool Phase up to the Space Phase.

There is a separate editor associated with each level giving the user complete control over how their creature looks from the number of arms and legs, to the colour and texture of the skin.

The SPORE website has also been updated with new information from E3. This includes a set of in-game screenshots, the video trailer for Spore, and some screenshots of creatures recently created by the SPORE game team.

The only disappointing thing for me is the news that SPORE most likely won't be released until 2007, given that it does not feature in the fiscal details for 2006, meaning it won't be released until at the earliest April 2006. In the mean time I'll just have to make do with the completely awesome trailer and demo.


Windows Live Mail Beta Invites

posted 10 May 2006 11:57 byDerek Lakin:: 12 Comments 
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I've got five invites to give out for the Windows Live Mail Beta. You must have a hotmail account for me to send the invite to, as the beta is only available to addresses and you must be in one of the following countries: United States, United Kingdom, Japan, France, Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy,Brazil and China.

Usual rules apply: first 5 to comment get an invite.


FlexWiki 2.0

This happened quite a while back now and even more progress has been made, but I still think it's worth mentioning. Thanks to the herculean efforts by Craig Andera, FlexWiki has been branched in CVS to give a new branch that is built using .NET 2.0.
One of the things I've been working on - a little at a time, usuallyabout half an hour a day - is a fairly extensive rewrite of FlexWiki. We're calling it FlexWiki 2.0, and not coincidentally, it involves an upgrade to .NET/ASP.NET 2.0.
This partial rewrite was driven by the desire to give FlexWikia better authorization model. I still haven't even started on that partof it - first I had to untangle the existing caching code from thestorage engine, and separate out a bunch of special processing thatdeals with something called "backing topics". Don't ask.
Many thanks to Craig for his continued involvements and effort on the FlexWiki project. Once 2.0 finally hits the streets I expect to be getting more involved with some of the mods I was working on a while ago. I felt that it wasn't worth committing them while Craig was doing such a major re-write.

Catching Up

posted 04 May 2006 15:04 byDerek Lakin:: 0 Comments 
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I've been particularly bad at blogging here on Digital Thoughts recently and for this I apologise. I have been (barely) managing to keep up with my posting over on Bill's Baby and Web 2.0 Blog, but things have been particularly slack here.

The reason for my blogging absence is that I've actually been really busy. I quit my dull day job that has been boring me to tears for the last 18 months and have set up my own company, Polyceta Limited. I now work from the comfort of my own home on new and exciting things with great people like those at Content Master, for whom I am currently working.

The domain name will gradually be phased out and replaced with the new domain name. The FeedBurner feed for this blog was updated ages ago and you can currently use and to get to Digital Thoughts.

New Version of GoogleTalk

A new version of Google Talk is now available for download. I tend not to use the main interface much I just respond to chat windows that popup when someone chat's with me (often from the GMail chat window), so I didn't know there was a new version until I saw Forget Foo's post.

The immediately obvious change is the support for avatars (see the screenshot) and a few are included with the new version, though you can use your own. Something that I'm not sure is new or not is the ability to change the appearance of the chat window in respect of how chat's are presented. Presumably it was there before, but now you can choose to include pictures or not.

Another new feature is the support for Blackberry devices now as well.
Get Google Talk on your BlackBerry and chat with your friends on the go for free. You can even keep emailing and playing BrickBreaker while you chat. Download it at (most commonly accessed via your BlackBerry).

Judging by the What's New page the chat window appearance stuff is new, too.

Google Talk was originally praised for it's clean, simple, uncluttered approach to IM (as well as the voice functionality). I wonder if the MSN Messenger bashers will be as happy with Google Talk now?


Computers and the Internet According to "normal" People

I just got sent this link about how "normal" people perceive computers and the Internet. Here's some of the funny ones (they're funny becuase they're true!)
  • Computers get slower and slower with time; this is perfectlynormal, and the only thing to do is to go to the store, and get them toformat and reinstall everything (which isn't a problem, because otherthan Windows, Office, all those cool toolbars and that nice purple apebuddy, there isn't anything installed).
  • Keyboards have some piece of magical technology which makes keysmove around from time to time, when you're not looking; for thatreason, you always look attentively at the keys when typing, even after a decade or more.
  • Computers ask "Are you sure?", andsimilar questions, all the time, because they're made for idiots. Sinceyou're an intelligent and educated person, you know that you can always simply click on "Yes", without reading. It certainly saves time.
  • "What do you mean, my computercan't handle Windows Vista? It was top of the line when I bought it 8years ago! I bet you're deceiving me!"
  • Buying stuff through the Internet is an absurd idea; some evilhacker would get your credit card's number the exact moment you usedit. "What am I, insane?"
  • Email messages should be kept forever,and in the Inbox. Even ads for penis enlargement pills (you never knowwhen they might be useful, after all). When, after a while, yourmailbox "breaks", you simply get yourself another one, and telleveryone that you've changed email addresses.

MIX 'o6 in Vegas

I wasn't fortunate enough to go myself, but my good friend Paul did go and has written up his report of the sessions he attended.

Maybe it's just Paul's twisted peculiar strange different unique outlook on life, but his experiences in Las Vegas aren't quite what I would have expected.

I am not jaded. I am not cynical or wordly wise, I am easy to pleasefor Pete's sake but Las Vegas in that first hour was underwhelming. Iknew by the time we got to our hotel that Vegas had beencommercialised. Sure, it has always been about the money but back thenthe money was dirty and the streets dirtier. 100 dollar bills wererolled up and used properly back then, they weren't exchanged for aquarter-pounder and 90 in change. When you couldn't pay your debts youhad to talk to Luigi or Mario, not phone the gamblers helpline and geta three year residual loan at favourable rates. McDonalds, Dennys,StarBucks. Commercialised by the same bland, generic-Viagra using,Westernised globalisation mega-brands that make 100 chain outlets aniche experience.

Optimising Windows Vista under Virtual PC

For those of you that don't have the spare hardware to try out Windows Vista on a separate box Virtual PC makes an ideal alternative. Ben Armstrong has a great post on how to optimise Virtual PC for running Windows Vista.
  1. The more memory you can assign to the virtual machine - the better.  Though make sure you leave enough memory for the host operating system.
  2. Install the Virtual Machine Additions that come with Virtual Server 2005 R2 - these make a world of difference.
  3. Turn off most of the advanced video animation.  You can do this by going to:
    1. 'Start menu'
    2. --> right click 'Computer' 
    3. --> 'Properties' 
    4. --> 'Advanced System Settings'
    5. --> hit the 'Settings' button under the 'Performance' section
    6. --> Uncheck everything except 'Smooth edges of screen fonts', 'Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop' and 'Use visual styles on windows and buttons' and then hit 'OK'
  4. While you have the Advanced System Settings open - go to the 'System Protection' tab and disable this feature (you can use undo disks to get the same level of protection)
  5. Stop explorer from searching the network at odd times by going to:
    1. 'Start menu'
    2. --> left click 'Computer' 
    3. --> select the 'Tools' menu
    4. --> 'Folder Options'
    5. --> select the 'View' tab
    6. --> Uncheck 'Automatically search for network printers'
  6. Finally - if you are using Virtual Server - do not use a desktop background

Visitor Map

posted 14 March 2006 15:43 byDerek Lakin:: 0 Comments 
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If you want a map on your website of where your visitors come from, check out You just add a simple graphic to your website that links back to them to show the map. The default looks like this, but you can use your own image:

ZIP Code Database


Stargate Worlds Website

The official website for Stargate Worlds (that I talked about before) has now been launched.

The content is a bit limited at the moment, but over time this will obviously grow. The forums have already been running for a while now and is a much better resource at the moment than the website. A good example of this is the interview with world builder Josh Kurtz, which beyond telling us a bit about Josh doesn't actually tell us anything about the game. Every game related question was met with a "we'll tell you more later" type response.


Social Bug Tracking

Axosoft are trying a little marketing experiment with their Bug Tracking product OnTime 2006.

Forjust $5 you can get a 5 license version of their Small Team Edition ofOnTime 2006, which is available for Windows, Web and VS.NET 2003/2005.Ordinarily the cost would be $495 and to make the experiment evenbetter the proceeds are all being donated to the American Red Cross.

Axosoftis conducting a social marketing experiment. We are giving away 5-Usercopies of OnTime 2006 Small Team Edition, a product we sell for $495for just $5 ($1 per user!) . This offer is just available throughsocial marketing sites and there are no links to this page on theAxosoft web site.

When I visited the site to getmy copy the donations to the American Red Cross stood at $4,555, whichis pretty darned impressive in itself, but if this value reaches $5000then Axosoft will add an additional $1000 themselves.

There is a 10-license version of OnTime 2006 STE as well and the discount of $490 can also be applied to that.

Itwill be interesting to see if this viral marketing approach issuccessful and to see if it catches on anywhere else. It’s veryheartwarming to see that the proceeds of the experiment are going tocharity.

Digg it


Site Upgrade

Apologies for the outages over the last 24 hours or so, this was due to the upgrade in progress to Community Server 2.0. I had a couple of glitches, which I have now resolved.

Due to time constraints I won't be upgrading the skin for a while, but I'm sure I won't be able to resist the temptation for long!

Holiday Time

I'm off to Vancouver for a week so I won't be posting here until I come back.

Until then enjoy the view:


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