Sony MicroVault

Have been using the Sony Micro Vault since an impulse purchase in PC World. I always swore I’d never shop in there as the prices are inflated and the service clumsy but I can’t fault the product. Here’s a cheaper way of getting one:

and the Sony Japan site has all the tech specs. The other pen drives I looked at were bulky and made by non-descript manufacturers – I wanted something that would be sleek, robust and would have an element of high-end support (such as downloadable tools) hence I got a 256Mb version. They also do mini ones, ones with fingerprint recognition and ones with 2Gb capacity. The floppy disk is dead! Fortunately my company has enabled the USB port on our XP machines making this workable … I suspect that once they realise people are able to use corporate bandwidth to download direct on to these drives they’ll restrict it, but for the time being I carry all my work in my pocket and the whole thing is fully encrypted. Wonderful. Gets passed that old nugget of emailing work home only to find the mail server collapsed after you left and there’s nothing waiting for you when you get in.

Where in the world?

I’m not sure how I feel about PC World. This is a bit like the Tescoisation of Britain. I’m happy to have the benefit of a giant PC warehouse to browse on a slow Saturday afternoon dreaming of Macs, 23” displays, a fully integrated wireless home and gigantic leather office chairs … however it dislike the sheer brazen ‘we know all about PCs’ approach. Maybe this is deeply rooted in people with an IT-bent (myself included). When the tech support guy (typified so wonderfully in ‘The Office’) comes to call he’s invariably a he, is aloof (or painfully peculiar) and labourers over a problem that clearly would take him 2 minutes on his own PC. In PC World the staff are probably recruited from those ‘passionate about PCs’ and their remit is to tell the average Joe what £300 box they need and why. And then cross-sell them a printer, scanner, digital camera and laptop bag (for a desktop). For anyone with slightly more knowledge who’s probably got a Dell on their desk, because they saw it had acres more performance, the store is patronising and over-marketed. And that’s rich coming from Dell customers like myself who probably see 287 Dell adverts in their paper every day and another 456 on TV that evening. I think it’s because the temptation is always to provide the ‘we recommend’ or ‘PC World know best’ approach to service. That said, if you dodge the staff, spend a good time browsing their enviable product ranges and decide for yourself you’ll probably be happy. At least you didn’t have to wait-in for a delivery off the web that never arrived. Within minutes you’ve bought, are out of the store and are on the ring road. Just like Tescos.

Genealogical Update

Thanks to Glen Gibbard, Su Floyd and Celia Renshaw the mystery of the Tingewick, Padbury and Buckingham Nelsons is becoming clearer. My increasing interest in this stuff (and my creative eye) is pushing me toward learning Copperplate calligraphy, not for any reason other than I’ve got ropey 20th Century middle-English round-hand handwriting. Was considering learning it the Victorian way with hours of moribund practise in a poorly lit room with nothing but bread and water. ‘Method calligraphy’ now there’s a googlewhack.


Usability books

I've been asked to recommend some usability books .. so here's a link to Amazon's .Web Usability Literature section. While you're at it ... take a look at my wishlist


Reflections on Hatton Garden

Spent Saturday ring shopping in Hatton Garden ... some experience ... won't share details of our recommendations just yet. Suffice to say amongst the gems (pun intended) there are some horrendous shops. full of 'bling', fronted by hedgehog-haired sales-boys and black-jacketed door staff. rings are plucked from behind crushed velvet curtains amongst silk flowers and acres of faux-marble. Despite today's reports about the decline in our high streets, there's something to be said for regional shopping. That said, the more 'bespoke' services offered on Hatton Garden are worth looking in to ...
Two other interesting developments this weekend (aside from telling all her family about the wedding) ... got Ben Folds new album Songs For Silverman and discovered (through an occassional dabble in to genealogy) that relatives of mine who met in the late 19th Century in London actually had common ancestry in the small village of Padbury in Buckinghamshire. Nothing like a bit of home-counties incest to brighten a weekend. Haven't listened to Mr. Folds yet but, if colleagues are to be believed, I shouldn't be disappointed.