Site Review – Pixoo.us

January 26, 2008

Pixoo, currently in private beta, offers a pretty unique service. They claim to be the first digital beauty salon who will rework personal photos that can then be used on any number of today’s social sites such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube etc.

With everyone being vein by nature and having at least one thing about then that they would like to change, I thought the site was on to something.

After being accepted as a beta tester, I thought I’d give the site a try and submitted a photo of myself. I paid the $9.90 and was looking forward to seeing the results.

originalThe Original

I asked them to clean the photo up, remove the red-eye, change the background and perhaps change the shirt. I also mentioned that I’d like to use the new photo for professional purposes.
finished
The finished Product

This is the finished product that I received after 3 attempts. Needless to say I’m not sold. I only approved the final version to conclude the process as I felt that not much more was going to be done to improve the photo.

I still think the site is a really good idea. Perhaps the original that I sent them was not of the best quality or perhaps there is not much that can be done to a mug like mine.

I have no formal complaints other than I’m not happy with the result and will not be using it on my Facebook profile.

Link

My thoughts on the South African power crisis

January 26, 2008

I arrived back in South Africa last Friday after leaving for Sydney at the end of last year. I’ve heard about the power cuts from friends and reading the news, but I never quite understood how bad the situation was.

I’m sitting at Johannesburg International (OR Thambo) waiting to board a flight back to Sydney and to be honest I very worried about the future of the country of my birth.

There are thousands of examples of how the “Load Shedding” is effecting South Africans but one really made realise how bad things are becoming. Before leaving for the airport, I popped down to our local London Pie to pick up some lunch for the family. The shopping centre where the pie shop is located had their power cut due to load shedding. London Pie were therefore unable to accept debit or credit card payments. With no other way of paying I was forced to look for some lunch at the Spar. Spar was lucky enough to have a backup generator.

How many other potential customers were forced to do the same? With load shedding being a daily occurrence, how is the owner of the London Pie expected to run his business?

There is news today that some of the countries largest Gold and Platinum mines were forced to stop operations due to Eskom not being able to guarantee them power. This in turn had negative consequences for the price of gold and platinum. Earlier in the week, I heard how international hockey games hosted in South Africa had to be changed due to load shedding fears. With reports saying that this will continue for years, one can only imagine how the 2010 soccer world cup will be effected.

I’m not sure what the solution is or if there is any light at the end of the tunnel. There are calls for resignations and explanations, but I’m not sure these will help. The problem is not one that can be resolved over night.

It pains me to say that I’m looking forward to getting on the plane this afternoon.

For an idea of how bad the situation is getting visit http://www.newgate.co.za/eskomstories/top10.htm

South Africa’s Future

January 2, 2008

I read an interesting article this morning by the UK Telegraph about the future of South Africa under the new ANC leader and presidential hopeful Jacob Zuma.

More recently, another high-ranking ANC member told a British newspaper that most, if not all, of the officials who have been handling South Africa’s finances in the 13 years since Mandela came to power would abandon their posts under a Zuma presidency.

At first pass, Mr Zuma is a far from impressive candidate for the job. He is an affable populist with no formal schooling, but an impressive trajectory through the ranks of the military wing of the liberation movement.

His testimony during the rape trial that, after having sex with someone who was HIV positive, he had taken a shower to reduce the risk of infection, beggars belief. And although he was acquitted of rape and the corruption case against him collapsed, his days in court are not over. Prosecutors say they have found fresh evidence of corruption and it seems he will face further charges in the New Year.

Link to the article

 

Extended Lost Season 4 Trailer

December 19, 2007

I can’t wait for 21 Jan 2008. The new season looks like its going to be a good one. Something worth the wait!

Songza, A great new free music service

December 19, 2007

Songza is a new online jukebox that pulls its songs from YouTube clips. Launched in November 2007 by Aza Raskin, the site presents the user with a very simple and effective interface for searching for and playing music. It’s pretty much what Google will do if they ever allow music search from their front page. Minus the white background.

http://songza.com

2007-12-19_0851

Zuma Wins

December 18, 2007

Is this a sign of things to come? Jacob Zuma has just won the vote to become the next ANC leader with him receiving 2329 votes in the presidential election. The current president, Thabo Mbeki only managed 1505.

Yahoo Maps ditches Flex in favour of Ajax

December 18, 2007

Today Yahoo Maps turned off the the Flex 1.5 based maps application and launched a new version built upon AJAX.

Long story short, we have some work to do. We need to make Flex/Flash work with advertizing so that it can become the primary content not the ads. We need to get more developers trained on using Flash/Flex and especially ActionScript 3 so that teams and solutions can grow. We also need to highlight the API’s within Flash Player and make them easier to adopt. Many developers have no idea that these API’s even exist. As a medium, Flash Player still has some very large barriers to cross to see larger scale adoption and mainstream use.

From Yahoo Maps- From Flex 1.5 to AJAX

C# Pagination for Facebook iFrame Applications

December 18, 2007

The original PHP code is from Ascanio Colonna (Link)

facebook-pagination.txt

Massive href hacks MySpace

November 10, 2007

<a href=”badplace.com” style=”position: absolute; top:0; left: 0; height: 8000px; width:1000px”></a>

The above piece of HTML code inserted into several MySpaces pages allows the download and installion of malware on unexpecting user’s machines. With the href being so large, should the visitor mis-click any link, they will be redirected to the infected site. The user might not be suspicious on a media rich site such as MySpace, thinking that they need to install a codec to view a video etc.

For developers like myself, this introduces a problem. The rule is never to trust any user provided content and remove scripts, iframes etc. With this exploit, we will need to validate all external links too.

Wonders of Africa as seen on Google Earth

November 9, 2007

Google Sightseeing has a great post on African animals caught in the act on Google Earth. Here are a few highlights from the post:

Small family of elephants in Chad Huge flock of Pink Flamingos
taking off in Mozambique
Hundreds of Tanzanian hippos wallowing in the mud

Link to a kml file containing hundreds of animals found in Google Earth
Visit the official Megaflyover and National Geographic pages.

Link to Google Sightseeing post