I just found out that the 2014 World Science Fiction Convention is being held in August 2014 in London. The trailer video may be especially interesting to Midlanders who have always rather fancied seeing the perfidious capital attacked by giant monsters, space aliens etc…
To celebrate its fifth birthday my JURN.org academic search-engine has updated its front page, to reflect the fact that it has grown beyond the arts and humanities focus. JURN can now search and access full-text on most academic topics. All open access or otherwise free. Tip: searching using intitle:keyword “key phrase” works very well.
Trees, People and the Built Environment conference, 2nd to 3rd April 2014 in Birmingham. Plus a pre-conference symposium, on a somewhat premature-but-flattering theme, Birmingham, the UK’s First Biophilic City: what it means to the citizen, the health services and urban forestry.
D’log West Midlands events listings page updated for 2014. Coming soon…
We Need To Talk About Subsidy: Television and the UK Film Industry. Birmingham Centre for Cultural & Media Research Group Seminar, Birmingham.
11th – 12th March 2014:
Jisc Digital Festival, Birmingham.
20th March 2014:
Digital 360, on digital brands in everyday life. Birmingham.
25th March 2014:
ReThinkMedia: Birmingham City University’s Annual Digital Media Conference. It “will explore the current challenges facing Birmingham in its ambitions to become a leader in digital media”. Also seems to have a Media Work fringe unconference.
26th to 27th March 2014:
Internet Retailing Expo 2014. NEC, Birmingham.
I’ve checked all of D’log‘s sidebar links by hand and eye, and repaired or deleted if needed.
01 Mar 2014
Very nice if you’re in the leafy Home Counties around London, not so useful for those in the industrial Midlands or the North. Although the use terms (“I can only use accessed information for non-commercial research and private study”) make any business access moot for people such as the cybersecurity boffins of Malvern or the ceramics R&D teams of Stoke-on-Trent.
Oh well, there’s always my JURN, now with added business and science ejournal goodness.
Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, London’s (and possibly the UK’s) first dedicated cat cafe. Opening soon in Shoreditch. Website is likely to have been crashed by traffic, at present, but here’s the promo video…
Just the other day I searched all over Morrisons Stoke in vain for the Heinz Sandwich Spread (it seems they don’t stock it). This LEDs + smartphone solution might have helped…
Riffing off the “which three books would you take…” idea, introduced by George Pal at the end of his classic movie adaptation of Wells’s The Time Machine, The Long Now Foundation is choosing 3000 books you would most want to use to rebuild civilization, for their new Long Now space in Fort Mason, USA.
A “ONE thousand year project” that aims to restore the forests of Northern England is taking place at Manchester School of Art. Dr David Haley, Senior Research Fellow at the School, is an ecological artist who explores our relation to the world and our continued survival as a species through artistic means. Rather than having token green spaces in cities and towns, Dr Haley argues, we should be thinking about having cities within the forests [and living in the treetops]. The project is designed to last for 1,000 year as this is the period it takes for a forest to go through two “successions”. It takes 500 years for an entire forest to come to complete maturity.
Prebake is another AdBlock list designed to remove the cookies pop-ups and notices.
We may have recently lost The Light House for photography, but we’ve now gained The Photographer’s Wall in the new Library of Birmingham…
“Launched in January 2014 the space will feature the works of emerging and established fine art photographers and will highlight the ambition and talent of some of the region’s best photographers.”
The first exhibition opened today.
Joe Turner blogs on the Arts & Crafts movement in Birmingham, and is off in search of more…
“It is interesting that a movement with such radical roots might now be perceived to encapsulate quite conservative — and very English — ideas about suburbia and the rural idyll. It is this, as well as the variety and occasional eccentricity, which I think make it such an interesting era in Birmingham’s heritage. So, armed with the indispensable Pevsner Guide and a camera phone, over the next few months I will try to blog about some of the built legacy of the rich Birmingham Arts & Crafts tradition.”
The world’s leading thinkers on the Edge question for 2014: What scientific idea is ready for retirement? Since the single page is the length of two novels (130,000 words), and thus the likes of Instapaper will choke on it, I’ve taken the liberty of making a simple free Kindle .mobi conversion which looks nice and has proper —’s and spacing. This is for those who want to read the page on their ereader device.
EDGE_Question_2014 in Kindle .mobi format
Sad to hear that the long-standing high profile photography exhibition space at The Light House in Wolverhampton has been denied £90k of continuation funding by the Arts Council. The report suggest the Light House gallery space will now be switched over to other art forms.
New data visualisation website, Human Progress.
New Year, new desktop design at D’log…
The rationale: I liked the design flair and sheer chutzpah of the Windows 8 look, but loathed the clunky Microsoftist “do it our way, or else” implementation. Having successfully bypassed Microsoft’s apps / store and other impositions with my new Windows 8.1 PC, I still wanted the Windows 8 Metro / Modern style desktop that Microsoft failed to deliver. I discovered the free xWidgets system, and my new Win8 desktop was designed throughout a Sunday afternoon.
My desktop layout is still a bit rough around the edges (Classic Shell’s Start button will probably change its appearance soon, maybe also the central ‘flag’ logo). But here’s the layout rationale/blocking…
I even ended up making an xWidget of my own, to serve as the movie and magazine launcher icons…
Here are the basic steps to set up my desktop design, if you had a hankering to recreate it yourself:
1. Download my .zip pack containing my wallpaper, some custom icons, and an xWidget I made that serves as scalable media launcher tiles on the desktop (such as the movie poster and magazine clickable icons seen in the desktop screenshot).
2. Download some additional Windows Metro style icon sets such as the huge set from DAKirby. You will need icons in Windows .ico format to swop into traditional desktop icons.
3. Tell the Windows desktop to allow icons to be placed anywhere you like. To do this: right-click anywhere on the desktop | “View” | turn off “Auto arrange”). Set the desktop to use big icons. Then swop out your old icon graphics, then arrange the new icons freeform.
6. Install Icon Restorer (or similar Windows freeware), and save a backup of your new rough-draft layout.
5. Set up the icons on the taskbar (save linked desktop icons onto the desktop | swop out icon graphics (.ico format needed) | then drag to taskbar).
6. Install Snippage. It’s pretty easy to use. It’s just a mini web browser, which lets you snip a bit of a live website and then show it live on the desktop. The ‘snip’ seen above is the BBC local 5-day Weather snipped to a two-day block, placed on the desktop. Set it to refresh maybe once an hour. (For security make sure you update Adobe Air, which is what runs Snippage, to its latest version). When you mouseover a Snippage tile, the controls pop up.
7. Install the core xWidget freeware, so you can run a load of xWidgets on the desktop.
Install all these xWidgets, which is pretty simple. Extract them from their .zip and .rar files and then double-click on them, which sends a copy of them into the xWidgets folder. That’s it. After installing them, to find your new widgets from the desktop: click “Show hidden icons” at the end of the Task Bar | double-click on xWidget icon | right-click on empty part of the special pop-up xWidget taskbar | then choose “Refresh widgets list”.
9. Arrange the xWidgets on the desktop, and individually set up the functions of the new xWidgets (right-click on them, set “shortcut setting”, “update RSS”, choose icon, etc). Learn also how to re-size them, change their transparency level, flip them to change the colour, etc.
10. Then click “Show hidden icons” at the end of the Task Bar | right-click on the main xWidget icon | Backup/Restore | then Backup your new xWidgets desktop layout.
You’re done, bar some pixel-perfect fussing. It’s all happily stable for me, and doesn’t chew up system resources. It runs happily on 64-bit Windows. With this lot in place, and these Windows 8.1 tweaks, you should barely have to see the Windows 8 Store apps at all. The system “Search” xWidget, seen in the bottom-left corner, launches search results in Explorer rather than in an app. Even Task Manager can be launched properly, in a window, by simply right-clicking on the taskbar.
If you have to Restart (rather than Hibernate) the PC, xWidgets remembers where stuff was placed when it gets re-started. So does Snippage.
Additional note: I also run ModernMix just in case, which forces many (not all) Windows 8 “apps” to open in a normal Window.
Did a relative snag a new desktop PC in the post-Christmas sales? It very probably has Windows 8 pre-installed on it. Here, for those who want it, is my hard-won step-by-step guide to the essential steps in stripping Windows 8 of its new touchy-feely junk. The idea is to make the new desktop look like Windows 7 and have it behave like a normal hardcore desktop PC operating system. It’s fairly easy to do, once you know how. I couldn’t find all this information gathered in one place, and made into a step-by-step guide, so here it is.
1. First let Windows 8 takes you through the user name setup and registrations, and then let it start up for the first time. Those who just want their desktop back again should ignore the new colourful tile-tasic interface. Simply locate the Internet Explorer “tile”, click it, and immediately go online to download the free official Windows 8.1 update. It will download in a minimalist tile, which it’s all too easy to accidentally close. But the download will continue in the background, and Windows will pop something up to tell you when it’s ready.
The 8.1 update is a 3.5Gb download, so let’s hope you have fast broadband. Windows Update won’t fetch this Windows 8.1 for you — you have to get it for yourself.
2. After the Windows 8.1 upgrade has downloaded and installed (maybe 90 minutes), you will then be able to apply the following simple fixes, which are only available in Windows 8.1:
Load Windows, and find the tile that switches you to the normal desktop. Down at the very bottom of your desktop screen, right-click on the taskbar | Choose “Properties” | Choose “When I start by computer, go straight to the Desktop instead of Start” | Uncheck “When I point … show the charms” and “When I click the top left …”. Then click Apply, then OK.
Reboot (restart) the PC. Your PC should now go straight to the normal desktop after being rebooted. Most of the “charms” are also gone.
3. Now start Internet Explorer again (In Windows 8.1 its tile may not be on the front starting page). Download and install the free Classic Shell for Windows 8. This gets your Windows “Start” button back again, near enough…
You can also use Classic Shell to disable a few lingering charms, such as those that appear from the bottom right of the desktop. Right-click on the new Start menu button, and choose: Settings | Windows 8.1 Settings, as shown here….
Unofficially, the maker of Classic Shell also supplies a Windows Style Start orb button. Swop it in by right-clicking on the Classic Shell Start button icon, and choosing: Settings | Replace Start Button | Custom.
4. The final step in reclaiming your old style Windows desktop is to associate file types (.jpg. .txt and so on) with proper Windows software — rather than with apps that pop up as screen-filling tiles.
(This step is needed because applications like the free Windows Essentials come as both apps and as proper Windows software. For instance, the Windows Essentials bundle’s Windows Live Mail is an app, but it is also to be found in the more straightforward desktop version at: C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Live\Mail\wlmail.exe Incidentally, this desktop version of Live Mail works fine with POP email accounts, despite what you may have heard about Windows 8 not supporting POP email).
So… to associate file types you first need to give them something to apply to. So download (or install off disks) your normal complement of desktop software. Remember to try to get 64-bit versions of the software, if that’s the version of Windows 8.1 you’re running. Keep in mind that most 64-bit software won’t run 32-bit plugins inside it (e.g. Photoshop), although the exception to that rule seems to be the 64-bit Firefox.
5. Then go to your new Start button, click it, and in the box there type: “PC Settings”. A hideously new-style PC Settings screen pops up, in which you should navigate to: Search and Apps | Defaults | “Choose Default Applications by File Type”.
Here you find a single huge list of file types, and this is where you can change them all in one go (hurrah). Associate the most usual file types to straightforward desktop software — which means that an app tile won’t pop up to handle them.
While you’re looking around in PC Settings, you may want to completely turn off SkyDrive (Microsoft’s cloud storage service). Simply select the SkyDrive tile and disable the “Save documents to SkyDrive by default” option. Note you have to verify your identity with Microsoft first, (by acknowledging their Windows registration email) before they will deign to let you change this Skydrive setting.
Then to escape from PC Settings, press the Windows button on the keyboard.
You will still see the new Windows interface when pressing: Crtl + Alt + Delete, because the default Task Manager is now an app. However, you can still get straight to a more desktop style Task Manager by typing “Task Man” into the Start Button’s search bar. From there you can pin it to your taskbar, so you no longer have to Crtl + Alt + Delete except in an emergency.
That’s it. After these few fixes you may never have to see the horrendous new interface of Windows 8 again, and your Windows 8 will work and look much like Windows 7.