2009 SA Blog Awards : Update

So, I didn’t make the top 10 finalists in any of the categories I was nominated for. Nevertheless, there are still some great blogs up for nominations in each of the categories. Go and check them out, I’ve cast my votes, cast yours.

Big Picture: Photos from 30,000 feet

I just love The Big Picture at Boston.com – they’ve just released a set of photos that were taken at 30,000 feet during an experiment by Spanish students.

On February 28th, a team of four Spanish teenage students and their instructor from IES La Bisbal school in Catalonia launched a weather probe they designed and built themselves. Their helium-filled balloon carried a payload of electronics and a camera to take atmospheric measurements and photographs throughout the trip. After getting permission from aviation officials and getting good weather, they released the probe on a trip that took it over 30,000 meters (19 miles) above sea level, through winds gusting up to 100 kph, and temperatures reaching -54C (-65.2F), and traveling 38 kilometers overland in a time of 2 hours and 10 minutes. The Meteotek08 team has collected their images and data on both their blog and flickr page, and has kindly given me permission to share these photos here with you. (28 photos total) – source Boston.com

I picked up from the comments that there have been a couple other occurrances too of students sending cameras up with baloons to take pictures from above. 

Pictures taken with a Pentax k10d from a high-altitude sounding balloon. Experiment conducted by Oklahoma State University while testing a new cosmic radiation detector.

The Best of Borealis page also has a number of great photos taken from above.


The upper part of the sky is looking blacker now. (Meteotek08 Team)


Undo that Gmail email you just sent!

A little while back I mentioned the new feature in Gmail Labs callled Mail Goggles to prevent you from sending emails while intoxicated by asking you mathematical questions before sending off the email.

Now there’s another new lab feature called Undo. You can now undo that email you mistakenly sent or forgot to attach the attachment to, or sent to the wrong person.

BUT, you’ve only got 5 seconds to do it. It will not recall messages sent but delay the sending of the email for 5 seconds. 

Go to your settings page and click on the Labs tab. Then scroll down to the Undo item and select Enable and then save your settings. 


Now once you’ve sent your email you’ll see an Undo link next to the “sent” message that will stay there for 5 seconds to allow you to undo the send.


Thanks to Dre for spotting that one and passing it on.

Internet Explorer 8 unleashed!

Microsoft finally (today) made the release version of Internet Explorer 8 available to the public. It seems Microsoft has taken a page out of Google’s book (don’t they always) with regard to browser performance and functionality. 

According to Microsoft the new browser is faster and more user-friendly. Some of the features included to help you are as follows:

  • Quickly access a street map by highlighting an address and using an Accelerator such as Microsoft Live Search Maps effectively taking a 7 step process to getting a map from an address to simply 2 clicks.


  • New and improved powerful search bar makes searching for and comparing products so much easier – without leaving the current browser window or tab.ie8-smart-address-bar  
  • Multi-tasking stability – now when a web page causes the browser to hang/crash only that tab is affected, not the whole browser – no more losing work or your train of thought. Should the browser crash it will automatically recover the previous tabs and sessions upon restarting.
  • Internet Explorer 8 now remembers your recently opened tabs so that you can quickly re-open them and go back to a previously visited page.


  • Just like Google Chrome’s Incognito browsing mode, Internet Explorer 8 has a new InPrivate mode which acts in the same way keeping your browsing in that session private by not storing cookies, cache items or browsing history for that session.
  • Again (starting a trend here) just like Google Chrome warning you of a website that is potentially unsafe, Internet Explorer 8 will attempt to do the same – making your web surfing so much safer. ie8-unsafe-site 
  • Compatibility mode for browsing websites, that aren’t geared up yet for Internet Explorer 8, using the Internet Explorer 7 rendering engine instead.ie8-compat-mode
  • A new feature is tab-grouping which makes related tabs have the same look so that you can easily switch between related tabs, or close them at once. And closing one tab from a group will switch you to another tab from the same group so that you stay within the same context you were in. 

For those of us already using Google Chrome, most of this will be something you’re used to, yet not accustomed to from Internet Explorer.  Remember that this is the first release version of Internet Explorer 8 so there may be a few teething problems, as always, expect a patch or two or a service pack in the not too distant future.

I’ve not tried IE8 for myself yet but early reports are that it’s not as fast as they claim – will that have an effect on its two-third market share? Read more at TechCrunch.

Download IE8 now for yourself.

Chrome Experiements

Just in case you thought JavaScript wasn’t powerful then check out the Chrome Experiments site. You don’t need to use Chrome to view them but they’ll run better and quicker than most other browsers. 

These experiments were created by designers and programmers from around the world. Their work is making the web faster, more fun, and more open – the same spirit in which we built Google Chrome. – source Chrome Experiments

You can play Tetris, look at some physics experiments and even make your browser talk. Go and check it out

Think you’re a hotshot JavaScript programmer – got a cool experiment or fun game? Why not submit it to them and you could find yourself being showcased on their site too.

Big Picture: Scenes from the recession

As the saying goes: “A picture is worth a thousand words” – so there’s very little left for me to say other than these pictures strike home the reality that, the world is in a recession. 

The state of our global economy: foreclosures, evictions, bankruptcies, layoffs, abandoned projects, and the people and industries caught in the middle. It can be difficult to capture financial pressures in photographs, but here a few recent glimpses into some of the places and lives affected by what some are calling the “Great Recession”. (35 photos total) – source Boston.com


Brittney Nance holds her head as she works on her laptop in her motel room at the Old Town Inn March 5, 2009 in West Sacramento, California. Brittney and her family were evicted from the house they were renting after her husband, Steve Nance, lost his job. The couple and their three children are living in a budget motel while they save enough money for deposit on a new rental home, but are finding it difficult as they pay nearly $1200 a month for the motel room. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

POP your Hotmail emails with GMail

The Windows Live team have finally made POP3 available for everyone. The details are as follows:

POP server: pop3.live.com (Port 995)
POP SSL required? Yes
User name: Your Windows Live ID, for example yourname@hotmail.com
Password: The password you usually use to sign in to Hotmail or Windows Live
SMTP server: smtp.live.com (Port 25)
Authentication required? Yes (this matches your POP username and password)
TLS/SSL required? Yes

The How-To-Geek has put together a nice little walk through for Gmail users to enable poping your Hotmail mails (and even sending them via Gmail). It took less than a minute to setup and get working – go on try it for yourself.

[via Lifehacker]

Happy 20th Birthday, WWW

It almost seems like just the other day in the early 90’s when I was tinkering with HTML in Notepad. Just look where we are today with social-networking and rich Internet applications. 

The forefathers of the Internet, Berners-Lee and Robert Caillau, have some concerns though.

“There are some things I don’t like at all, such as the fact that people have to live off advertising,” said Caillau, who preferred the idea of direct “micro payments” to information providers.

“And there’s the big problem of identity, of course, the trust between the person who is consulting and the person who provides the page, as well as the protection of children,” he added. – source News24]

I wonder what things will be like for our kids, 20 years down the line – hopefully I’ll still be senile enough to be able to check things out for myself!