Random Thoughts

Tech, words and musings from an Englishman in Seattle

Flight Simulator In Google Earth

Before you ask, no. I had nothing to do with this.

There is a hidden easter egg in the latest revision of Google Earth, the formula for access to which is currently making the rounds.

Basically, to quote TechCrunch

To access the hidden feature, open Google Earth and hit Command+Option+A (note it must be capital A) or Ctrl+Alt+A if you're using a Windows Machine.

However, given my obvious conflict of interest, I'll just take exception to TechCrunch's final statement:

…It wasn't perfect, but it was as good visually as the paid Microsoft Flight Simulator, and in terms of actually presenting real objects it was better…

Obviously they haven't looked at FSX. The two products have both different visual focusses and merits. How does the terrain and imagery look outside of major cities? How do those airports compare? How are the flight systems? ATC?

I'll just stop now before I dig myself into a hole :-)

I have to say though, as easter eggs go, it's a goody. It's up their with the shooter in Excel 95. Btw, Excel 97 had a flight sim based easter egg too…

Amazon Fresh

Last night we had our first experience with Amazon Fresh - and it was a good one.

We signed up and as a test just ordered some hard too find milk and some strange bread that the kids like. We set up a delivery address (they deliver to our house, yey!), and a pick up location which is just a few minutes from my office in downtown Kirkland.

At 7pm I stopped by the pickup location and was greeted by a very friendly representative. When she got our bag, she noted that the bread was frozen.

“We didn't realize the bread from this supplier would be coming frozen and as it didn't state that on the website, we're going to give you a refund.”

Sweet! Free bread :-)

Within a few minutes, a refund notice from Amazon appeared in my inbox.

Anyhow, we've yet to have an actual delivery experience, but I think we'll be using them quite extensively from now on…

AppleTV, iPod and iTunes Sweetness

I know that I go on and on about how much I like the AppleTV, but an interesting thing just happened.

On Monday night I was browsing some video podcasts on the AppleTV in the living room and settled in to watch Robert Scoble's interview with Marc Canter (very interesting, btw). At about 30 minutes in, I was getting tired. Not caused by the content, I hasten to add - it was 1am.

So I paused the playback, switched off the TV and associated AV gear and went to bed.

Fast forward to this afternoon. I was heading to the airport for a trip to Mountain View and on the way out of my house, I picked up my video iPod from it's dock and slipped it into my pocket.

Once we passed 10,000 feet, I pulled out the iPod and navigated to the same podcast that I'd been watching on a different device the night before, many miles and feet of altitude away.

And it picked up where I'd left off.

Of course, I sorta thought instinctively that it would work. But to have it just do the right thing was priceless.

Sold! Closed!

You may remember that a few weeks ago I posted that our old house was on the market. Well, I hadn't posted on the subject since then as I didn't want to anger the real estate gods and their friend Murphy.

I think it's safe now.

When we put the house on the market, we stated that offers will be considered at 3pm on the following Monday, one week after we put it up for sale.

At 3pm that Monday we had eight offers, six of them way above the asking price and all with escalation clauses! Essentially, the sale of our house had become an Ebay style dutch auction.

We accepted a great offer - with no contingencies. Not even an inspection contingency.


Well, today it all closed and Nabila and I are happy campers :-)

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Gnomedex 7.0 Video

I was just playing around with a new slideshow creator, Animoto. I imported my photos from Gnomedex 7.0 and it came up with this:

Rock! This completely takes the ideas that other products such as Microsoft's Photo Story 3 have run with and raises the bar through the roof.

Animoto is an interesting product, from an interesting group of people:

Animoto Productions is a bunch of techies and film/tv producers who decided to lock themselves in a room together and nerd out.

Their first release is Animoto, a web application that automatically generates professionally produced videos using patent-pending technology and high-end motion design. Each video is a fully customized orchestration of user-selected images and music. Produced on a widescreen format, Animoto videos have the visual energy of a music video and the emotional impact of a movie trailer.

The heart of Animoto is its newly developed Cinematic Artificial Intelligence technology that thinks like an actual director and editor. It analyzes and combines user-selected images and music with the same sophisticated post-production skills & techniques that are used in television and film.

Despite the buzzword and PR heavy description, it looks like they're onto something. Man, they even have a press kit!

Wikipedia - Must Stay Away

Why is it that everytime I look at an article in Wikipedia that I was even remotely involved with, I feel the need to correct gross inaccuracies?

The problem is that I don't follow through on that need due to the the fear of being accused of changing things to “reflect my version of reality”.

To me though, said articles feel written by people who have observed the topic at a distance. The words feel only tangentially connected to the facts. I can definitely contribute, and do so in an impartial manner.

But I don't.

I've heard too many horror stories.

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Over For Another Year

Gnomedex is over.


I like this conference. It's open, honest and the attendees are involved. It's our conference.

Congratulation to Chris and Ponzi for keeping it small, focussed and real.

This was my third Gnomedex and it was the same size as the first. Any other organizer would have cashed in. Especially as the conference is in it's seventh successful year.

Nice work guys. I'll be back next year.

My favourite talks? JibJib, GeekBrief.tv, Ignite (man, you should just to two days of that!), Derek Miller, Guy Kawasaki, Ronni Bennet, Darren Barefoot.

My least favourite? Well, the key and caps could've been vetted a little better…

All good though.

Can we do it again next week?

Communication Overload And The Guys From GeekBrief.TV

I'm on Twitter. IRC and Skype for the conference back channels. I'm “blogging”: and taking pictures.

Oh, and I'm listening to the conference.

Up now, the guys from GeekBrief.TV. Heh - Cali Lewis isn't her real name…

Not-Cali and her husband are talking about the early days of the show and how they got into it. They had no experience in video before starting the show - they didn't even own a camera.


They obviously have a passion for what they're doing - their message? Don't worry about being crappy. Just do it. Don't quit.

Photos and Notes From Gnomedex

My photos from Gnomedex are slowly appearing on Flickr.

Darren Barefoot

There are many photographers here. Keep an eye on Kris Krug, Josh Bancroft and Scott Beale.

Of course, the blogging world seems to mostly be here - the Gnomedex Technorati tag is a good one to watch - Todd Bishop from the Seattle PI is also taking notes.

More as it happens…

Gnomedex Kicks Off In Seattle

Gnomedex kicked off last night at the Bell Harbor Convention Center here in Seattle with the usual, and highly fun, reception.

I chatted with some friends that I hadn't seen in person for quite a while - probably since last year's Gnomedex.

Anyhow, the day started early today with the highly energetic and interesting Robert Steele. Man is he imparting information at high bandwidth.

You can follow all the action, live, at the Gnomedex website.

More later…

Seattle Blogger Meetup Hosted By KOMO4

Photos from the event are over on Flickr.

A few weeks ago I received an invite to a Seattle blogger meetup from Chris Pirillo. I normally don't head over to Seattle for these things as the 45 minutes stuck in traffic on the bridge is more than I can generally handle.

However, this time the meetup was being hosted by KOMO4, the local ABC affiliate - we'd get to take a look at the studios!

This invite was, of course, too much for this humble blogger to pass up, so at 5.30pm on Thursday, I headed into the mess that is I-520 and onwards to Fisher Plaza in Seattle. Btw, did you know that Fisher Plaza houses one of the best data centers in the area?

Fisher Plaza

After the requisite 45 minutes of hell, I arrived and almost immediately bumped into Chris, who was walking into the building as I was taking photos. I say walking, but he was also streaming live video at the same time…

Anyhow, the event was pretty cool. The control room was pretty impressive and the news studio was smaller than I had imagined.

I spoke to a few of the hundred or so people there and the most interesting insight that I came away with was that there are way more non-tech bloggers out there than tech bloggers. The only tech blogger I spoke with was Mr Pirillo…

A good event, with good food.

I'm looking forward to the next one.

© 2001 to present, Steve Lacey.