Tango rip-off Sony Bravia bouncy balls advert

The Sony Bravia bouncy balls advert is one of my all-time favourite TV ads, and is well known around the world. Viewers outside the UK may not have seen the very funny rip-off of the ad, complete with José González music, by the soft drink brand Tango. This time around it was filmed in Swansea, not San Fransisco. You can see the Tango ad here on the Swansea North Residents Association website. It seems they aren't too happy about having a load of fruit chucked down their streets!

Best and worst gadgets

Seen as I've stated in the about section that I have a love of all things gadgetry, I thought I'd expand on it a bit. Here are my top five gadgets:

  • Bose QuietComfort headphones – I've had a pair of the original QuietComforts for over five years now. I originally bought them when I did a lot of travelling for my job, and they proved invaluable for reducing cabin noise in planes and being able to shut yourself off from the general hubbub of an open plan office! Unfortunately, they've developed a bit of a buzzing in one of the earpieces now, so whilst they are not unusable, I don't wear them as much nowadays. I recently tried the QuietComfort 2s on a recent business class flight on American Airlines and am now hankering after a pair.
  • Linksys NSLU2 – A really nifty home NAS device that allows you to put up to two hard drives onto the network. I have a 200GB drive attached containing all my music. The best bit is that it runs a version of Linux and can be upgraded with some open source developed firmware. You can then install a variety of software to enhance it the functionality of the box. I'm currently running Twonkyvision to act as a UPNP server, and mt-dappd to act as an iTunes server giving me access to my music from all over the flat and on a variety of devices, including…
  • XBox 360 – I'm not a massive player of computer/video games, but I do enjoy them. However, the XBox and it's 360 successor have turned me into something of a hardcore gamer. I got my 360 premium edition on the day of release and currently have eleven games for it, not including the nine XBox Live Arcade games I've also bought from the Marketplace. The Live! features of the console really provide a totally different aspect to console gaming. My friends list includes a number of personal friends and whenever we meet XBox games, and how we are doing on each one as shown in our gamercards are normally the first topic of conversation. Add in the HD capability which looks superb linked up to my 32" LCD TV and it's ability to access all my music through UPNP from the Linksys and its a pretty powerful device.
  • Logitech Harmony 655 remote control – If I didn't have this, there would be nine remote controls on our coffee table, and my girlfriend would have given up and walked out by now! It links up to a computer (PC or Mac) via USB and you can tell it what devices you have through a web interface. Logitech hold an extensive database of devices, but if yours isn't there you can add it in yourself by teaching the remote the commands. There are a number of softkeys which are assigned to customisable functions and macro capabilities so for example you can press watch movie and get it to turn on the DVD player, select the right channel on the amp and turn the TV onto the right input. What's more is that the support from Logitech is first class if you do have any problems.
  • Nokia N80 – The newest addition, but already a favourite. I'm not going to say too much here as I'll probably blog a more in-depth review soon. Suffice to say that a phone that does Wifi and UPNP is a pretty good combination for me!

Not all the gadgets I've bought have turned out to be as good. Here are the top five turkeys/dust gatherers:

  • Blackberry 7100x – The O2 version of the Blackberry. I'm not in a position where IBM will pay to let me receive work email on a Blackberry (and to be honest I'm not sure I'd want to either!) and so it was just used as a mobile phone and for personal POP3/IMAP email access. To get email pushed to the device you have to route it through an O2 email gateway. In the end I spent a year just deleting spam from it. It was also only average as a phone as well.
  • Nintendo Gameboy Advance – The lack of backlight and a highly reflective screen meant it got put on the shelf very early on. Only usable in perfect lighting conditions, which is rarely the case in most situations where you want to use a handheld. My Nintendo DS is much, much better.
  • Apple iSight webcam – As a gadget it is cool (what Apple stuff isn't?) but it was a purchase on a whim and has never actually been used. The idea was that I'd use it to chat to my parents. The problem was that I had to use iChat, which meant they had to use AOL Instant Messenger. As I'd already invested a lot of time in getting them to understand and use Skype, getting them to use the bizarre Windows AOL IM interface was not going to happen. This is one of the problems with OSX – things like Skype and MSN Messenger do lag behind Windows in the functions they provide.
  • Any Motorola phone I've been unfortunate enough to own – The number of which equals two. My first ever "brick" and a work one. I just don't get along with their interfaces.
  • Numark TTX1 record decks – Technological masterpieces and superior in every way to the DJ industry standard Technics 1210s. However in typical bedroom DJ fashion I used them for two weeks, found out mixing was hard, then left them gathering dust. Thankfully they were so good I managed to get all my money back via eBay eight months later!

And finally, like any gadget freak, I have a list of wants:

  • Digital SLR – I used to be into photography when I was younger, thanks to my fathers influence. It even went to the point of turning my bedroom into a makeshift darkroom to develop my own prints with my dad's black and white projector. I've owned a succession of Canon Ixus digital cameras, but am feeling the urge to upgrade to a DSLR, especially when I see the photos that people like James produce. I've come close to making the step a number of times, but always pull myself back for some reason. The Nikon D70s would be my weapon of choice.
  • High definition player – HD-DVD or Bluray. I'll wait and see what wins.
  • True video iPod – Not the stopgap effort that's currently out. ThinkSecret have been posting rumours about this for ages, including various back to the drawing board stories.
  • Apple Mac Mini with true media player capability – in a more HiFi style form factor with large and fast hard disk, HD drive and twin TV tuners, running OSX and PVR software like the stuff from Elgato.
  • Sky HD – Hopefully coming soon…

One gadget-du-jour that I don't really have an interest in is in-car Sat-Nav. The TomTom units are cool, but I just don't have the need for one. My innate sense of direction usuall pulls through!

IBM Hursley is hiring!

IBM Hursley Park

A number of jobs are currently being advertised on IBM's European Career Centre pages, including some recently posted jobs working for IBM Software Group here in Hursley. For those that don't know, Hursley Park is a rural location about four miles outside of Winchester, Hampshire. We develop a variety of products that help to form IBM's Application Integration Middleware portfolio, including CICS, WebSphere MQ, WebSphere Message Broker, WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere Enterprise Service Bus and many more. Hursley is also the home of IBM's Java Technology Centre, where we develop IBM's JVM implementations, a Storage Software team, and a group doing work on IBM's Information Management products. There's a lot more development groups and products I've missed as well.

All this is backed up by a thriving lab-based services team and teams working on emerging technologies, such as the guys over at eightbar. In addition, the site itself is also used by IBM's services division, and some large customer projects are based on-site.

As an environment to work in, I honestly don't think you can get better. We are well away from the ratrace and the facilities onsite are second to none including a gym, sports hall, clubhouse with bar and various facilities. Two football pitches, cricket pitch, tennis courts, softball, 2km fitness trail, local village shops and pubs and a lot more. The main thing about working here though is the people you get to work with. In my experience they are simply the best.

There are a number of open vacancies at the moment, and you can access them from the link above by selecting United Kingdom as the country and Research & Development as the professional area. Opportunities exist for Java and C/C++ developers and testers, z/OS specialists and information developers/technical writers. My specific reason for posting this however is that some of these vacancies are in the WebSphere ESB team. Notably:

72530 – WESB Developer for Install, Samples & First Steps

71162 – WebSphere ESB Functional Verification Tester

Come on England!

At Hursley we are very lucky to enjoy a reasonably flexible working regime. As such, there are no real problems in being able to knock off a bit early to watch the England v Trinidad & Tobago game this afternoon. We certainly don't need to take the advice of the Amicus union. It is a 5pm BST kick-off, and so I arrived in work at 6:30am this morning in order to leave early to watch the match. Normally I am found wandering in at about 10am.

I'll be watching it round a friends house, and we are following it up with a BBQ. Thankfully the weather is sunny and warm, but not as warm as it will be on the pitch in Nuremberg.