iPhone 4 voice control – alternatives to Siri

If like me you’ve been looking at Siri voice control enviously, but can’t justify the upgrade price from an iPhone 4, then these alternative apps might be what you are after. Neither is perfect, neither of them have the same level of integration that Siri has, and they’re not available from the home button, but they aren’t bad.

I still want an iPhone 4S though…

Vlingo [app store]

Dragon Go! [app store] – unfortunately this is not available on the UK store, I got it from the US app store. It’s easy enough to sign up for a second account though, and it works fine, even with local results.

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RIP Steve

It’s amazing to see the outpouring of tributes for him on twitter. Whatever side of the technology fence people sit on, everyone seems to recognise his genius and vision. It’s not often we get a world changer among us, it happens once or twice in a generation. Steve Jobs was a world changer.

I think part of what bought people to Apple products was Steve’s passion. He sucked people in. We were mesmerised in a way; people called it the “Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field”. The first bit of Apple gear I bought was a Mac Mini in 2005, after seeing Steve announce OS X 10.4 Tiger. Technical aspects aside, what Steve seemed to be saying was: “that bit of frustrating technology you are wrestling with now? It doesn’t have to be this way. It can work for you, it can make your life easier, not just different.”

I often come across as anti capitalist. I’m not really, I’m just anti not making the world a better place. Anti doing something you are not passionate about. It’s great to see someone actually get to live that. And that’s why it’s so very sad to lose him.

Steve’s thoughts on death start at 9:10, but the whole thing is very worth watching.

Stay hungry, stay foolish. Think different.

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Picture of a spider taken at the bottom of my garden.


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Packed with the cream of British comedy talent.

A quote used on the DVD cover for Burke and Hare. Unfortunately, none of the talent were using it, maybe in fear of it running out. For Simon Pegg, I sadly think that time has passed (as a big Spaced fan this is very sad, but I saw Hot Fuzz, twice). I notice Nick Frost wasn’t in this, maybe he thought it beneath him, and took a lead from David Tennant, who supposedly pulled out of a title role.

To be honest, I should have walked away the moment Ronnie Corbett walked on screen.

DVD Cover Burke & Hare

Part of the trouble with this is that it was billed as dark comedy and the set guys did a great job on creating an atmospheric setting. It looked like dark comedy, It was billed as a dark comedy. When Simon Pegg interviewed about it, he called it a dark comedy. It was not a dark comedy. Pegg and Serkis play the lead roles as blundering idiots. There is nothing sinister or clever about them to make this work as a dark comedy. Their motives are mere opportunism and need of money. For this to work they need to be likeable, which they are not. Pegg’s character does it for a girl. Trying to insert a romantic comedy plot into this diverted a lot away from the actual story, and meant that Burke and Hare did very little actual body finding/acquiring. I think Simon Pegg just fancied Isla Fisher.

If it was a dark comedy, why did one of the militia feel the need to fall over in every scene in a comedy manner? The one that wasn’t Corbett or Reece Shearsmith. In a grave, fainting at any given opportunity, just generally throwing himself on the floor when he had nothing to say. Everytime he was on screen. From what I can tell, the Hammer Horror version was less cheesy. The best think you can do with this film is play a drinking game with “spot the cameo”. Bill Bailey, Christopher Lee, Stephen Merchant, Reece Shearsmith, Paul Whitehouse and Michael Winner to name a few.

As with all of Simon Pegg’s recent movies, I go into them with hope, but end up simply bored. I really hope “Paul” is better, but I may end up giving it a miss to preserve the memory of Spaced and Shaun of the Dead.

1 Stolen Cadaver out of 5.

Posted in Blog, reviews

Why does Cameron really want to shut down Twitter?

I don’t usually do politics here, please bear with me. Normal service will be resumed shortly. Marc Maron has just released a new album, and Keith Malley’s 8th album is coming out tomorrow, and I’m on my third month of veganism.

During the riots we had 24 hour news on TV in my house. They were reporting predominately about London, and barely ever mentioned the riots outside of London. The bits they did report from London were repeated on an endless loop, often excluding new breaking news. In short, we knew something bad was happening, but not precisely what, or where. As I live in Bristol I wanted to know what was happening in my city, were we safe, would my work still be there tomorrow, things like that.
So I did what many people did, I turned to Twitter for news. Crowd-sourcing news and information is one of Twitter’s massive strengths. There were people setting up riot hashtags letting people know what trouble areas to avoid. Even the police were using Twitter accounts to reassure, and inform people of what was happening.
Twitter was extremely valuable to countless people all over the country, and did far more good than harm. We even got to see the Big Society in action, there was a #riotcleanup hashtag and accounts (like @bristolriots) where people organised, while the riots were still happening, hundreds of people to get together and move in first thing in the morning to cleanup their communities.
This must have been very distressing for Cameron. The Big Society was in action in two different ways. Both as a news source and as a cleanup operation. Without him, and more damningly, without the private sector. People were doing it, for themselves, by themselves, with no money changing hands. This is not his vision of modern Britain!
Cameron is a highly manipulative, devious and cunning person. The Big Society was his way of trying to sell an emotion and an ideal, without really understanding that emotion. Empathy, compassion, community and caring. Like all effective psychopath’s he’s studied people’s behaviour. He knows what his reaction probably should be, and he knows what people want to hear, but he has no idea how to do it or even why he should.

Wait, are you saying Cameron’s a psychopath?

Psychopath, sociopath, I’m not pretending I’m qualified to say. But, in my opinion, yes, most probably. Psychopaths often end up in positions of power due to their lack of empathy and their cunning, and manipulative tendencies. I’d say that Thatcher, Blair and Cameron are all likely contenders. Clegg isn’t, he’s too weak and would never side with someone so domineering if he was.

What does this have to do with Twitter?

I’m getting off the point. Cameron reacted very poorly to all this. For him to take his eye off the ball like this is very unusual. He spend the first few days of the riots in a villa in Tuscany on holiday, and when he eventually showed up, realised that he had massively underestimated what was going on and had to be seen to be making strong decisions. Social media is an easy target, but shutting down people’s communication is knee jerk and reactionary. It wont solve anything. You might as well shut down phone lines and the postal service. The riots would have happened without social media, they always have before.

It’s not that simple though, is it?

No. I think it’s simpler. It’s revenge. It’s personal.

During the phone hacking scandal recently, much of the story and many of the new developments broke on Twitter. When information breaks out on there you can’t stop it, eventually the mainstream media is forced to recognise it, even though they were sometimes days late with the news. Given that Murdoch controls much of the news here, the story would have been ignored until it went away if it were not for Twitter, and the work of The Guardian. Twitter’s role in keeping the scandal on the news agenda was huge. This caused David Cameron massive embarrassment and has threatened his premiership. It could still bring him down. He has a personal axe to grind with Twitter so this sort of kick back is really not surprising. He’s been handed a situation where he can take a swipe at the social movement that’s caused him the most hurt yet, and he may well try and go for it. Right now he’s doing a cost, benefit analysis (he is after all, a Tory). I expect he’ll realise he has too much to lose and not enough to gain.

To overuse a poker metaphor’s: The News of the World fiasco left Cameron severely short stacked. He only has enough chips left to play one or two more hands. It takes a weak player to wait until their blinds come up and they are forced all in on an unseen hand, and he doesn’t want to appear weak. He’s trying to work out whether he can shove all in now on a hand with a little potential, or wait for the next uncertain one. He should fold this one. He’s not that short stacked. Not quite yet.

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Random acts of photos

Helter Skelter Dark

Helter Skelter Bright

Flame Tree

Bike Back Flip

Inline skates roll grab

Team work backflip

Bike Roll

Bike scissors

All photos by me taken at Camp Bestival 2011.

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The Vegan thing, 10 days in.

Admit it, you’ve clicked on this link expecting to hear tales of bacon sandwiches and cheese.

Well, despite finding myself on a thread simply called “Bacon”[1] that’s been running for 7 years on a forum I go on, I have remained vegan. One week in, and I’ve stuck to a vegan diet. It’s not always been easy. I’ve found myself hungry and lost for things to eat on a few occasions, but in general, my diet isn’t actually that different than before. The main change is swopping margarine for soys spread, and not putting cheese in the sandwich. Once a few substitutions have been made, you carry on close to business as usual. You’ve just got to roll with the punches.[2]

To celebrate a week of Veganism, I visited the world capital of hippies and vegans – Glastonbury. Surely, in Glastonbury of all places I’ll be able to find something to eat. Especially in a cafe/restaurant. We ended up in The Blue Note Cafe, unfortunately the choice was limited to burger or burger. I had the burger. A schnitzel burger. A schnitzel burger takes entirely exactly like a burnt turkey burger. Apparently it’s world famous also, so if that’s the best, I wont be trying others.
Glastonbury has an “ethical supermarket” everything in it is vegetarian or vegan. Including a vegan pepperoni pizza. At £5 though, too pricy. They even have vegan washing liquid. It doesn’t come in bottles, you pump your own.

I have also been harassing supermarkets. Sainsbury’s provide a comprehensive list online of vegan suitable foods. Well done them.

Morissons tell you to read the packet. Thanks for that.
Asda think it’s a nice idea, and point out that they label vegetarian stuff. I agree with you, if our products are labelled with a logo like our vegetarian food, it would make shopping easier. Great. They do have a two year old list. It’s better than nothing, but it’s definitely incomplete, and can’t be relied on.
Waitrose don’t have any info in store, or in electronic format, but have promised to post(!) me a copy. Presumably they will print off their computer first…
Tesco are slow to respond to emails.
As are Lidl.
Aldi don’t provide an email contact, snail mail only.
I have found this http://www.animalfreeshopper.com which is great, but I’m not sure it’s very mobile friendly, especially in supermarkets where there is often poor signal.

The work canteen is never going to offer anything, beyond a watery and undercooked baked potato with baked beans. I need to find something I can bring with me, that doesn’t need heating, that I can add to this. I currently have beans and microwave rice in my locker. They don’t make a hugely appealing combination.

The Vegan society has got back to me and I have a mentor. Very exciting. I will email him later and hopefully get some good ideas/guidance.

My wife has started a vegan blog, just for vegan stuff. Have a look.
[1] I’m starting to really miss bacon!
[2] yes I watched the apprentice. I need something to make me angry occasionally.

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