Something New Every Day

A record of doing a new thing every day in 2011

Timezone fun (96/365) Wednesday April 6, 2011

Technical post ahead - you have been warned!

I’ve been beta testing Bedside Clock v2.0 this week, and noticed there was a bug in my gratuitous sunrise/sunset feature.

Basically I realised the calculations were returning UTC times, rather than local times which was causing a problem (for me) of an hour now we’re on British Summer Time.

Anyway, I managed to fix it and learnt something new too - turns out the DateTime object has a SpecifyKind() method to help you define what type of time it is e.g. UTC, local or unspecified.

This means I can convert my DateTime to the correct local time with the following snippet:

DateTime thisDate = DateTime.SpecifyKind(new DateTime(original.Year, original.Month, original.Day, (int)hours, (int)minutes, (int)seconds), DateTimeKind.Utc); return thisDate.ToLocalTime();

As far as I can tell everything now works beautifully, so I can tell when the sun is setting without looking outside. Useful!

Morning coffee at Fernandez and Wells (95/365) Tuesday April 5, 2011

The weather was a bit ropey on Tuesday morning, so I thought I’d go into Fernandez and Wells coffee shop on Beak Street on my way to work. I’d not been in before even though it’s only about 50 yards away from our office on Great Pulteney Street. I’d heard good things about it, although it always looked a bit pricey.

It turns out both of those things were correct - I think my espresso was truly the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had, but along with a freshly squeezed orange juice it officially cost a “bloody fortune”. Very nice for the occasional treat, but I don’t think I could afford to go in every day.

Integrated Yahoo! PlaceFinder in my phone app (94/365) Monday April 4, 2011

After much back and forth, I finally added the location feature to my phone app by integrating Yahoo! PlaceFinder to convert the latitude and longitude into an address.

Like many of the Yahoo! developer services, this one is really nice to use, has great data coverage and generous usage limits. I just hope it stays in place for a while as Yahoo! seems to be going through a transformation towards being a media company.

One thing I should mention about SimpleGeo though is that after my mini-moan a few days ago they did reach out to me and left a comment on the blog. Fair play to them on doing that, and I do hope they can improve their international coverage.

Completed my Olympic tickets application (93/365) Sunday April 3, 2011

Just in case you’re interested, below is what I’ve gone for (some of them being Hilary’s choices):

  • Sport: Tennis - Date/time: 28 July 2012 12:00-20:00 - Venue: Wimbledon - Centre Court
  • Sport: Table Tennis - Date/time: 29 July 2012 13:30-16:30 - Venue: ExCeL
  • Sport: Gymnastics - Artistic - Date/time: 29 July 2012 20:00-21:30 - Venue: North Greenwich Arena
  • Sport: Weightlifting - Date/time: 30 July 2012 19:00-21:00 - Venue: ExCeL
  • Sport: Cycling - Track - Date/time: 03 August 2012 16:00-18:55 - Venue: Velodrome
  • Sport: Athletics - Date/time: 04 August 2012 18:50-22:05 - Venue: Olympic Stadium
  • Sport: Equestrian - Jumping - Date/time: 05 August 2012 11:00-14:30 - Venue: Greenwich Park
  • Sport: Handball - Date/time: 06 August 2012 19:30-22:45 - Venue: Handball Arena
  • Sport: Basketball - Date/time: 08 August 2012 20:00-00:00 - Venue: North Greenwich Arena

Lipsmacker Lemon Ale (92/365) Saturday April 2, 2011

I’d just got my haircut, so I thought I’d have some lunch in the Hexham Wetherspoons. I always have 5-bean chilli and chips in there for superstitious purposes as it always seemed to bring the mighty Yeltz luck in away games if I ate it beforehand (although a 7-1 defeat yesterday shows I have to be at the game for it to “work”).

However it’s the Wetherspoons Real Ale Festival at the moment, so I thought I’d try something new to drink and had a Caledonian Doc Kennedys Lipsmacker Lemon Ale.

To be honest it was a little disappointing. I’m not a massive fan of fruit ales, but I couldn’t even detect a hint of lemon in the beer. It was OK, but definitely nothing special - a bit like Wetherspoons I suppose :-)

Dish On It (91/365) Friday April 1, 2011

My friend O works at a startup called DishOnIt, which is a service about discovering and sharing individual dishes at restaurants.

I was one of the first users helping to beta test the service, and on Friday I checked out their Windows Phone 7 app. It’s a really nice experience and the UX is actually brilliantly designed. It works really well and if you’re developing apps I’d definitely advise checking it out to see what they’ve done. 

The only drawback - as in many similar networking apps - is reaching that critical mass of data. There seems to be lots of data in and around Washington State but not so much yet in other areas. Hopefully that will come soon. I know they also have an iPhone app too which obviously I haven’t seen if that’s your smartphone of choice.

Wasted 3 hours of my life on SimpleGeo (90/365) Thursday March 31, 2011

Adding in the gratuitous “Where Am I?” feature into my Bedside Clock phone app is becoming ridiculously time consuming.

After my last attempt to do this worked in a non-optimal way, I decided to try out SimpleGeo as a way of turning locations into place names. I’d heard good things about them - admittedly mainly from news sites like TechCrunch - and they seemed a good solution.

After I’d wrestled with installing all the right Python libraries I needed to get their example code working, I couldn’t get any data from them. For a long time I thought it was somehow related to my poor connectivity on the train, but turns out they just don’t have much data in the UK. If they do, it didn’t get returned for me. :-( I guess good coverage in Silicon Valley is the only requirement for a “good” geo-location service.

Anyway before I got home I found that Yahoo! PlaceFinder seems to have much better worldwide coverage and looks really good - so I’m going to give that a go next.

Windows Phone 7 update of sorts (89/365) Wednesday March 30, 2011

It’s been a mobile phone sort of week, and I’m well behind on my blogging, so I’m going to do a few entries in a row here so I don’t forget what I did. Wednesday I was out again after work, but I knew my phone was ready to be updated - it had alerted me - so I had something new to do when I got home. Hurrah!

Most people have focused on the upcoming “copy and paste” functionality but I can’t say I’v really felt missing out because I don’t have it. However there are the occasional glitches that it would be good to get fixed.

However, it turns out the update was just the pre-update update that updates the update service. That’s a lot of update for no real change :-(

Supposedly the real update will be following soon, but 3 days later there is no sign of it yet. All very disappointing.

Back into the Banjo (88/365) Tuesday March 29, 2011

As you may or may not know I’ve been learning to play the banjo on and off for a couple of years now. I try to play my 5 string in a bluegrass/Earl Scruggs style and am OK at playing a very limited set of riffs and tunes.

However I’m determined to spend more time practicing, so yesterday I bought for the first time some music books to help me get inspired:

For the first one, I have the album of Steve Martin (the comedian) songs who’s actually a great banjo player. The album is quite fun, and it will be great to try to play some of the songs. For the second, I’m definitely not a Beatles fan, but everyone knows the tunes and so it should be fun learning some singalong Jim Royle style tunes :-)

Celebrity Spot: Nick Moran (87/365) Monday March 28, 2011

Haven’t done of these for a while, but on my way down to Tesco near Piccadilly Circus after work, I heard some loud “geezer” walking behind me in a voice that sounded familiar in some way. I turned around, and it was Nick Moran, best known to me from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

Not desperately exciting,but something new and my first celebrity in a few weeks - which is quite disappointing seeing as I work in the middle of Soho.