Random gifts

A couple of weeks ago I got back into the office on Monday morning after a long weekend off to find a message from the office’s Goods Inwards department saying there had been a package delivered for me on Friday. I was expecting a few things for various projects so I set off down through the tunnels under Hursley to see which bits had arrived.

On arrival I found a plain cardboard box held together with tape claiming it had been damaged in transit (no obvious signs of damage on the box) marked with my name, work address and desk phone number but no indication of where it had come from. Once opened it revealed a boxed pair of Sennheiser Momentum on ear headphones and a delivery note.

None of the projects I’m working on at the moment need a set of headphones and I’d not ordered any for myself, as my usual set of Philips O’Neill Headphones are still in great shape and spend most of the working day on my head.

A quick ask round the office didn’t turn up anybody who knew anything about them. The delivery note didn’t help as it only showed 1 set of headphones and the delivery details, nothing about where they had come from. It was as if it should have been printed on headed note paper. So having drawn a blank as to where they may have come from I threw out a tweet to see if anybody would own up to sending them:

This didn’t get any joy, so I was at a little bit of a loss with what to do with them. A bit of googling round seamed to imply that if something is unsolicited then it should be considered a gift. Having said I decided to leave them in the box for a couple of weeks just in case somebody came looking for them.

Now some 2 weeks later and nobody has come to demand their new headphones so I’ve decided the least I can review them. I’ll use them next week in the office and write up my impressions.

EDIT:
It appears somebody has come looking for them a whole month after they arrived. They caught me in a moment of weakness and I agreed to send them back (they did try to sell them to me when I mentioned they had now been used and I had to point out that it would be illegal to request payment…)

Matterbox

Looks like I was one of the lucky few to get allocated one of this round of Matterboxes.

Mattterbox

Matterbox are an offshoot from the Royal Mail that ships cardboard boxes with samples from different companies to people in the hope that they will try the samples and spread the word (looks like they’ve achieved their goal with me this time). There have been 2 previous boxes, a pilot and the first edition, I got a copy of the first edition last year. I really like the concept of Matterbox, it’s nice to see the Royal Mail branching out and looking for new ways to make use of it’s network in these days of email and declining post.

This time round it was an all Cabury affair, based around their Spots v Stripes campaign. The concept is to encourage a sense of competition in the run up to the 2012 Olympics by creating 2 virtual teams that can compete against each other to score points. The competition can take nearly any form that has 2 opposing teams.

As part of the campaign Cabury ran a competition to create games that could be used, and this release of Matterbox contains the 2 winning entries and a Spots v Stripes chocolate bar.

Egg-a-thon

Egg-a-thon comprises of 4 small platic eggs, a dice and the board (the box), players start with both their eggs in the start zone, then take it in turn to roll the dice. If a player rolls a 6 they get to use the 6 and get another go, if they roll a 1 they loose their turn. The player can move their eggs forward, backward, left or right and move them in such a way as to obstruct their opponent, the score rolled on the dice between eggs. The winner is the first player to get both eggs to the finish line.

Flick Racer

In this box there are 8 numbered counters and a stick of chalk. You use the chalk to draw a racetrack and then between 2 and 8 players take it in turns to flick their cars round the track. If there are only 2 players then each player has 4 cars, 4 players each get 2 cars. If the counters end up out side the lines of the track drawn in chalk then place the counter back on track and turn it over, if you crash in to one of the other players counters, both are turned over. If a players counter is upside down when it gets round to their turn, then all they can do is to turn it the right way up.

The idea is you play the games and then register your scores for one of the two teams, I’ll take them to the office tomorrow and see if anybody wants to play.

Eightbar

I got added as an author for the Eightbar blog today.

Eightbar is a group of techie/creative people working in and around IBM’s Hursley Park Lab in the UK. We have regular technical community meetings, well more like a cup of tea and a chat really, about all kinds of cool stuff. One of the things we talked about is that although there are lots of cool people and projects going on in Hursley, we never really let anyone know about them. So, we decided to try and record some of the stuff that goes on here in an unofficial blog: eightbar.

The plan is to give a bit of a UK flavour to it all, but talk about the technology coming out of the lab, things people are playing with, but also some of the fun side. Hursley’s a very unusual place (compared to most technology sites), so we want to get that across. Anyway, hopefully lots of different people who work in and around Hursley will contribute.

The name Eightbar comes from the IBM logo which uses letters made up of 8 horizontal bars.

I posted my first article today about Andy Piper’s new AR.Drone that he brought to the office on Tuesday.

New Toy

I’ve finally got round to getting a smart phone. I have never been sold on the whole iPhone clut craze and I’ve already got a work blackberry that I despise so the choices where really between an Android or Windows Mobile device.

Given the hackability of Android pretty much sealed the deal, but I was torn between a Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 and a HTC Desire.

Sony Erricson – Xperia X10

Sony Xperia X10 front
Image CC licensed by louisvolant on Flickr

My last few phones have all been from Sony Ericsson, I’ve had the following:

  • T68i
  • K700
  • K750
  • w850
  • W880i
  • C905

I’ve been very happy with these phones over the years (with the exception of the C905’s lack of functional Google Maps, but that was down to O2’s “custom” firmware) so getting another SE was definitely a possibility but after getting hold one and having a bit of a play with the Timescape layer that SE have added on top of Android I decided it wasn’t for me.

HTC – Desire

HTC Desire 4
Image CC licensed by louisvolant on Flickr

HTC built the first Android phone the G1 and also the recent Nexus One for Google so they have a decent amount of experience with Android. The Desire shares most of the components of the Nexus One with major differences being cosmetic, the 4 buttons on the front are physical rather than an extension of the touch screen and the track ball in an optical sensor on the Desire.

I am quite taken with the Sense interface that HTC have layered on top of 2.1 Android “Eclaire”, but I’m hoping to have a play with a colleges Desire which is running a plain build of Android 2.2 “Froyo” shortly to see if it’s worth waiting for the Sense skinned version of Android 2.2 which is rumoured to arriving in 3Q, or to root the phone and install a custom image.

Apps

I’ve been taking it easy with apps so far and I’ve not found one I want to pay for just yet but the following free ones have been getting a reasonable amount of use.

  • Simple Last.fm Scrobbler – A scrobbler for the Android built in music player
  • UK Traffic Checker – A very cool app written by Dale Lane that check the route between 2 places for traffic problems
  • Bump – A neat way to send photos and vcards between 2 phones
  • Layar Reality Browser- A AR viewer

Development

So now I have my cool new phone I suppose it would be rude to not make use of it’s open development platform. I’ve downloaded the latest version of the SDK and the Eclipse plugin. I’m working my way through a couple of the tutorials before coming up with a project.