The Global Mink

[youtube http://youtu.be/5fYpCghqAl4]

Staying with a dear friend near São Paulo, I noticed a sound like crickets or cicadas coming from the front of the house. I’ve never actually seen a cicada in action (they go quiet when you find them) so I rushed outside with my camera, only to find it wasn’t insects.

The sound was actually made by squirrels gnawing through the leathery shells of the palm nuts that had fallen to the ground from the tree just outside the house. This video shows you how the squirrels do it – they gnaw a ring around the nut, pausing regularly as they get the opening started and then munching away at the kernel once they get through the shell.

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Suite Activity

While the news about the ongoing Oracle-Google trial in the US has been holding my attention, there have been a sequence of news releases about desktop productivity showing up over the last few weeks. It’s all too good to miss, so I’ve written summaries over on ComputerWorldUK and an enhanced version on InfoWorld.

Border Chaos

It’s not just Heathrow – Eurostar is a mess too. I had a meeting in Paris on Monday and was transiting London so took Eurostar instead of flying from Southampton. The outbound journey was no trouble at all, with barely a glimpse at my passport by the French border staff. But the return journey today was another matter.

I queued for the entire hour prior to the train departure, and boarded the train at the time it was supposed to depart (it was 12 minutes late, presumably because of delayed passengers). There was absolutely no reason for the queue, except for the passport check by the UK Border Force.

Their process it slow at the best of times – every passport has to be scanned and electronically checked, presumably the visual check all other European border staff use isn’t enough. But it was especially slow for two reasons. First, there weren’t enough staff on duty – only one of the three cubicles I could see was occupied. Second, the extra checks on people with non-EU passports were done in a way that blocked the lines of EU-passport-holders. The French border guy told me this had all started 4 or 5 days ago – what’s the betting staff from Eurostar have been drafted in to Heathrow to paper over the cracks?

Of course, the reason this is happening is because of political grandstanding by the UK government. None of them has to put up with any of this inconvenience as they have their own rich-and-special lanes, so they are happy to leave the public to be hugely inconvenienced while their political infighting over staffing levels, accountability and “being tough on immigration” plays out.

You may have thought it was just Heathrow that was messed up, but Eurostar in Paris and Brussels is just as bad. I took this video while I was waiting today to help you see the mess Theresa May is overseeing:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lvxRv1DMB0]

By the way, if you’re a TV editor looking for content, go right ahead and use this, it’s CC-BY licensed so you don’t need to ask me.

Speaking in San Jose, May 15

There’s a new speaker series being organised and hosted by PayPal at their campus in San Jose. I am honoured to be their inaugural speaker, on May 15th at 7pm. Do come along – I’m keen for there to be a lively Q & A at the end!

Bad News For The Meshed Society?

The Oracle/Google initial verdict is out in the US, and it’s bad news for the 21st century software industry. My take is on InfoWorld, but there’s still a fragment of hope – the judge could still rule that APIs are not in fact copyrightable (which would be a sensible taking-on-board of the SAS/WPL verdict in europe) and thus the jury’s finding is inapplicable.

Update: Looks like the EFF is on the same wavelength.

Making Hybrid PDFs

It’s easy with LibreOffice. Send people attachments you can be sure they can view, but which can also be edited with free, open source software.

Here’s a how-to video that explains how to make Hybrid PDF files – that’s a normal PDF file, but with the ODF source of the document embedded so that anyone with LibreOffice is also able to open and edit it. Both ODF and PDF are widely implemented open standards, so you can be sure that there’s a choice of free and open source software for editing and viewing them and that they will remain accessible in perpetuity.

[youtube http://youtu.be/EuVZcygoZsI]

The instruction sheet I edit in the video is available for download. Naturally, it’s an editable PDF!

The Global Mink

[youtube http://youtu.be/TWdzDIGW6zw]

Despite the crowds who gather to share the experience, watching the sun set and the shadow of the Sierra Nevada pass across the face of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park is always a tranquil and enriching experience. A hush settles over the place, as if everyone is aware of a sacred presence, and discussion settles to a whisper as the transition to night gradually embraces the landscape.

The year I went there with friends after JavaOne (including Juggy the Java Finch) I set up a tripod and took a sequence of stills to build this timelapse record of the experience.

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