Archive for January, 2008

Click To View The MacHeist Bundle Page

Ian Smith pinged most of us the other day about the fact that MacHeist are running a limited promotion of their annual Macheist Bundle. The macheist bundle is a great set of commercial applications, which can be purchased fro a fraction of the cost of buying them normally, added to which a percentage of the price goes to charity. The normal cost of the applciations is over $350, but you can get them now for the low price of $49, which for us UK residents weighs in at a stupidly cheap price.

Some of the application only kick in once a group purchase limit is reached, meaning that CSSedit, SnapZ Pro X and Pixelmator, all get unlocked once a few thousand people have purchased (and so far they have!). The included applications is really a no brainer for Mac fans;

1Password is a Password Manager that uniquely brings you both security and convenience. It is the only program that provides anti-phishing protection and goes beyond password management by adding web form filling and automatic strong password generation. All your confidential information, including passwords, identities, and credit cards, is kept in one secure place provided by Apple’s OS X Keychain.

CoverSutra is to iTunes controllers as the iPod is to music players. Sure, the fact is that all MP3 players really do the same thing… they play music. But nobody does it better than iPod. And no controller does it more beautifully, more painlessly, and more powerfully than CoverSutra. Combining an elegant interface, including a CD jewelcase with cover art right there on your desktop, with some powerful features ( integration, fully customizable keyboard shortcuts, and instant player controls), CoverSutra is worth it for the same reason the iPod is: it does the same thing all the other players do, only better.

Cha-Ching battles the claims in those ads that PCs are the realm of accounting and spreadsheets, but we know the truth: Mac users have finances to worry about, too. But we’ve got a secret weapon: Cha-Ching, an app that makes even boring stuff like checkbook balancing, budgets, bills and expenses fun and easy to use. No one would ever accuse Quicken of doing anything iTunes-style, but that’s exactly what Cha-Ching is– they’ve taken the best of OS X interfaces, and turned it into an accounting program.

Stop motion is a method of filming that involves taking snapshots of inanimate objects, and tweaking their positions in each frame, to achieve an illusion of motion when the shots are played back at speed. This is the technique used by movies such as the original King Kong, The Nightmare Before Christmas. and TV series like Robot Chicken and Moral Orel.iStopMotion is the ultimate tool for stop motion photography. Brought to you by the folks at Boinx, iStopMotion offers a powerful toolbox of features that streamlines the process of capturing and processing stop motion film. All you need is a camera, some props, and a great idea.

Awaken allows you to set any song in your iTunes library (or a playlist) as the buzzer on multiple alarms. If you’re worrying about alarms failing due to your computer falling asleep, no need to worry – Awaken supports waking your computer up from sleep to pull off its job of waking you up. Plus, you can control all of this from your bed using the Apple remote. Best of all, we’ve secured an exclusive for MacHeist customers. You’ll be the only ones with your hands on an exclusive new version of Awaken: version 4.0, which is totally rewritten, and features a new, animated UI, better iTunes support, additional full screen modes, and more.

AppZapper succeeds in transforming the mundane task of uninstalling apps into a genuinely fun experience. It’s no surprise that AppZapper quickly became one of the Mac community’s top selling apps within weeks of its release. Just drag an app into AppZapper’s window, and you’ll be immediately presented with a list of all associated files the app has scattered around your hard drive. From there, you’re just a quick zap away from a thorough purging. And to note, a major 2.0 upgrade, free for all customers, is on its way. AppZapper 2.0, which is currently under development, features a Leopard-tastic refresh of AppZapper’s looks and features. Believe it or not, AppZapper 2 actually has less buttons than version 1. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.

TaskPaper is a simple to-do list application that helps you stay organized. Unlike competing applications, TaskPaper is based on plain text files which offer you paper-like simplicity and ease of use. TaskPaper makes it easy to create a list of your projects and their tasks so that you always know what needs to be done. It’s simple to reorganize the list, create new items, mark items as done, and delete items that you’re finished with. You can also assign contexts (such as “home”, “office”, or “car”) to your tasks so that you can later generate lists of all tasks assigned to a specific context.

CSSEdit provides a quick and easy way to go from code to preview, Apple Design Award for Best Developer Tool of 2007, provides Live Preview that lets you see your code at work immediately and in real-time– no uploading, no refreshing, just editor and output. And incredible tools like CodeSense (which actually learns how you write code as you write it) and Selector Builder make sure the code you create is perfectly formed and simple to put together. And after the code is created, the X-ray inspector will let you search every element and attribute, and the Milestones feature will let you track all your changes from concept to validation. If you edit CSS (or just want to start doing so), CSSEdit is a must-have piece of software.

Snapz Pro X, is designed to make it super easy for you to show what you’re doing on your Mac to someone else. Whether it’s screengrabs or all out screencasts, Snapz makes it simple, super-fast, and elegant– everything you’d expect from an award-winning and much-loved piece of Mac software. The Live Preview feature lets you edit your screenshots live and on the fly– no more opening up a grab only to find you have to take it again. And Snapz’ video capture engine is faster than any other application of its kind out there, so you can screencast every one of OS X’s beautiful graphic touches– Expose, the Genie Effect, and even DVD playback– without worrying about a low framerate. Snapz Pro X makes a perfect capture, still or video, every single time. Why settle for telling when it’s just so easy to show?

Pixelmator is a beautifully designed, easy-to-use, fast and powerful image editor for Mac OS X has everything you need to create, edit and enhance your images. Pixelmator is a layer-based image editor. You can quickly create layers from your photos, other pictures, from selections or even your iSight. Yes, Pixelmator can add a layer to your composition directly from your Mac’s little camera. Not only can you link and arrange added layers, but Pixelmator allows you to blend layers, change their opacity, create clipping masks or even add layer masks to hide some portions of layer. If your image editing experience so far has been defined by PhotoShop, we guarantee you will be blown away by Pixelmator’s speed and beautiful UI.

Speed Download is the doorman for your Mac. It stands between you and the Internet, and makes sure that everyone coming through knows exactly what they’re doing and where to go. Everything that comes in and out, whether it come to or from the browser, FTP, your iDisk, or the included encrypted P2P client is handled with speed and power and sorted by type– movies go into Front Row, music goes directly into iTunes, and everything else goes exactly where you want it, automatically. Track your history, use Smart Folders to organize your files, and take advantage of unlimited undos throughout the application and a smooth auto-resume on everything if you make any mistakes. We all know what the Internet is for: downloading, and Speed Download helps you do exactly that.

The MacHeist Bundle is something you don’t want to miss out on!!

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The local collective of the Berkshire Magicians are organising an evening of entertainment at the Shinfield Players Theatre, in Shinfield, Reading on Saturday, 26th of January.

The line up includes Mentalism from Ian Souch, Clive Winterton, Brekk, Chris Marris, Robert Bone, Daniel Hudson, Len Allen, Simon Williams, Mo and Innma – The Molins and the The Beryl Jarvis Dancers, along with close-up and a licensed bar what more could you ask for on a saturday night!!

It should be a great evening, Tickets are £10, the close up magic will be in the bar before hand.

The event is on and tickets are available from me, or directly from; The Shinfield Players Theatre, Shinfield Park, Whitley Wood Lane, Shinfield, Reading RG2 9DF (call the box office on 0118 926 7135)

Doors Open 6.30pm For Close-Up Magic in the Licensed Bar. Curtain-Up 7.30pm

see you there

UPDATE: We are running another show on November 9th 2008 in Twyford. Another Chance to see a Berkshire Magician show

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Caroline Murphy was 27 when she died in a car accident on the 20th December 2007. She was helped many many women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex condition relating to a hormone imbalance of the ovaries. It can cause irregular or absent menstrual cycles, reduced fertility, and an increased risk of diabetes. An estimated 10% of the adult female population – approximately 2 million of the 19 million adult women in Britain – are affected by PCOS.

I didn’t know her, but she changed my life. She helped Michelle personally, over a number of years, for that I am grateful from the bottom of my heart. I also hope that this post will stand as a reminder of what positive thought, help, and kindness can do, and how very small ripples can spread out to effect peoples lives, possibly in ways that Caroline will never have know. Had Caroline not helped Michelle, Michelle may not have had the confidence to go out, to meet me, for us to fall in love, and to end up getting married. Caroline helped women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) loose weight, and conceive, again a tribute to her commitment.

Sitting through a funeral and looking at a church with standing room only, full to capacity of people that she helped, and improved the lives of is a testament to her, and hopefully some form of comfort for her family. Caroline also published a book, thats was published just after her death “Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) The Facts” along with Mohgah Elsheikh, her book aims to help people better understand PCOS and manage the condition. The book comprises concise chapters offering practical advice on the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of PCOS. The book also includes a useful section dedicated to weight management as well as a resource section including GI and calorie tables, and a list of helpful websites.

It is sad to have to say farewell to someone so young, with such a future, and ability to positively help others.. but as Michelle said about Caroline, she changed my life, hopefully she will continue to do so, even though she is gone.

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We’d seen the documentary on the discovery channel along time before christmas about the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibition as it left New York, and headed for the UK. It was a great documentary on how huge the setup and administration of the exhibition was, and also gave a great insight what was actually on display.

I’ve always loved myths, legends, and in particular ancient Egypt. The name of my blog, Naquada is not only a reference to the hit science fiction series Stargate, but it’s also a reference to one of the most ancient cities of Egypt, Naqada. So theres a bit of deep routed interest in the Egyptian side of things.

When the British archaeologist Howard Carter uncovered the remarkably preserved tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922, he created a worldwide sensation. The last time any of the Tutankhamun artifacts toured the world, it was 1977, and the term blockbuster exhibition was born.

Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, the new exhibition, offers visitors a chance to see new treasures and to enter the world that gives them meaning. It covers 250 years that encapsulated the very pinnacle of ancient Egyptian culture, wealth, and power. The 250 years is covered by more that 130 ancient artefacts, excavated from from the tombs of Tutankhamun, and his relatives Thutmose, Akhenaten, Nefertiti and others.

The exhibition is divided into eleven galleries, and is accompanied by an optional audio commentary by Omar Sharif, this I personally recommend getting if you go to the exhibition, as it adds an awful lot to the experience, without the audio guide you are going to miss a lot of information and background on the artifacts and history behind the objects.

The first of the galleries is an introduction on large screen, again given by Omar, and sets the scene for the galleries to come. Gallery 2 starts to cover the Daily life in Ancient Egypt, and follows into the traditional religious beliefs in gallery 3, and the radical readjustments of these by Akhenaten in gallery 4. Gallery 5 covers the Egyptian beliefs of death, burial and the afterlife and how important this was at the time. Gallery 6 starts to move into the actual tomb and life of Tutankhamun, since up to this point the exhibition has, as the title suggests, been around the golden age of the pharaohs, including Tutankhamun. Gallery 7 starts to explain about Tutankhamun himself, and his role at the young king of Egypt, moving through galleries 8,9 and 10 which focus in more depth on the boy kings life, death and burial. Gallery 11 concentrates on the CT and MRI scans that were done on the Tutankhamun from the 70’s through to today, throwing up, and dismissing many myths and believes on possible causes of his untimely death.

The exhibition galleries are just amazingly well presented, gone are the days of dull, lifeless glass cabinets showing artifact after artifact with uninspiring notes under them detailing the time and date of discovery. The Tutankhamun exhibition makes each and every artifact stand out. They are well lit, well spaced and completely in context with the other displays around them. It’s clear that a lot of time has been put into not only lighting, but the surroundings, the inside of the O2 bubble transformed with tasteful, and fitting chambers and pillars, encapsulating the feel of ancient Egypt. This gives the whole exhibition has a very eerie and haunting feel to it, and focuses you firmly on the artifacts and history behind them.

For things that are well over 3,000 years old, you could be mistaken for thinking they were almost new. The colours of the paint used on the items are bright, clean and sharp, the gold shines like true high value gold, and the wide range of objects is fascinating. Chairs that were used in life, and buried with the owner, show the indentation of the person that sat on them, which does leave you feeling quite humbled, these are not replicas of items recovered from the dust, these are real things, made, touched, lovingly crafted and buried with their king, accompanying him for over 3,000 years in the dark, cool almost eternal night of his tomb. This is brought home in the final few galleries where some of the objects can be see being carried from the tomb along side Carter.

The press list this exhibition as a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’d say that is somewhat true. after the 1977 tour of the world, many of the artifacts were damaged, or are now deemed to fragile to travel. This unfortunately means that the big stars like Tutankhamuns death mask, the iconic image everyone associates with the boy king, is not part of the exhibition. However, even without these well known items, the ones included are awe inspiring. It also means that this may be the final time the Tutankhamun artifacts leave Egypt, almost certainly in our lifetime. Also gone are the massive queues that met Tutankhamun on his 1977 visit, you purchase tickets on a timed basis (half hour slots during the day), you can enter during this time, and stay as long as you like, although you’re only likely to spend about 90 minutes in there, a good tip is once your past the first gallery, hang back slightly as only 60 people at a time enter the exhibition, so you can enjoy the showcases without others being in your way before the next 60 come in.

Should you visit this exhibition? Absolutely yes, you’d be a fool not to. Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs is currently at The O2 Bubble and will close on August 31st to return to the USA to Dallas Museum of Art in 2008, and remember, Tutankhamuns touring life if pretty much coming to an end, and the only way you’ll get to see it again is by going to Egypt.

Tickets are £15 for weekdays and £20 for weekends, ensure you also get the audio guide, and check out the Kelloggs discount giving £5 off a family ticket.

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So 2007 was yet another year in a few year period of huge change, excitement, and positivity for me. The start of 2007 seems just yesterday, and looking back at my post from New Year 2007 life’s been just as exciting and fulfilling the last year as well.

We started 2007 in a hot tub at Wilderness Farm, surrounded by friends, drinking champagne in cuffs and a bow tie, and I started to enjoy going to concerts.. starting off with the Fratellis, at the Brixton Academy, and moving onto Faithless at Nottingham.

We saw Alegria at the Royal Albert Hall, enjoyed snow in February, even being able to take my nephew out on his sled, and making snowmen. We re-lived eating fish and Chips on the beach, and started walking again, taking some nice round tours of Virginia Water, Sonning, Henley, and Windsor.

We enjoyed a great break away touring Avebury, Glastonbury, and Cheddar and Wookey, stopping at The Thatched Cottage in Shepton Mallet. We saw Mama Mia and the Kylie Exhibition in London, enjoying one of our favorite off the wall places to eat as well. We also headed into London to see Spamalot for my birthday.

Work wise this year, I’ve passed my SOA solution designer certification and headed out to Disneyland Paris, to attend TLE , and we both enjoyed a romantic, exciting and wonderful weekend when we stayed on in Paris over our anniversary, seeing the show at the Moulin Rouge, the Notre Dame, and even meeting friends on the steps of the Sacré-Coeur.

But without question the happiest moment of 2007 was when I asked Michelle if she’d be my wife, and thankfully after a lot of crying and disbelief (on her part), she said yes..

I also did my first wedding shoot, for our friends Lynn and Graham at their wedding, and understood the responsibly and pure stress that taking someone’s once in a lifetime photos provides, I decided after that to maybe keep to things that didn’t move, by doing a sunset shoot at Stonehenge.

2007, like every other year has given us a huge number of exciting and different things we’ve enjoyed, and since me and Michelle will be spending the rest of our lives together, I gave her an insight into what I’d look like when I was old and past it when we went to the Spice 18th Birthday party, and pretended we were rich and extravagant by pigging out on Champagne and Puddings for charity. We’re lucky to have such great friends, and it’s wonderful to remember how we’ve partied with friends at Marvelous Festival and returned to Center Parcs in longleat, as well as Halloween. Whilst still enjoying new places like Bantry Bay and Ballylickey in Ireland with Jo and Dave.

It was good to get back to Magic as well, heading to the International Magic Convention, doing more magic wise, reading more, and still trying to get more practice in..

Throughout the year, I’ve been lucky enough to have Michelle by my side, my rock and support, and hopefully hers as well. I’m lucky to have enjoyed almost two years of having her in my life, and the pleasure, excitement and fulfillment she’s brought me. This year, 2008, is the year that I’ll be married man and without a doubt. I think that will be the most memorable, important and pleasurable moment in that, and any other year.

My resolutions last year was to try and make each day special for me and Michelle, to love her more than yesterday and less than tomorrow, to never take for granted what I have, and to always remember how lucky I am… I think I have managed that.. and for this year to come.. to build on what I have, remember what I have, and what I could lose, and to think about what I do, before I do it, and of course to love my wife to be more and more as we share, enjoy and live our life together.

Happy New Year..

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