Ouya – Programming Begins at Home


I’m cautiously optimistic about the proposed new gaming console, the Ouya. I like big budget AAA games, but I also like smaller indie games, and the current consoles don’t really seem to support indie developers very well.

The Ouya, built on Android and with decent specs, is promising a more open and accessible approach to developers.

Well after backing the Ouya’s kickstarter campaign early on, I got to watch it shoot past its goal in it’s first day, so either it’s a brilliant scam or the console is on its way.

The makers of the Ouya foolishly asked for advice and suggestions from backers. Most advice seems to be hardware related (more RAM! More ports! More/better controllers! etc) or game related (ship with this game!). Here’s what I sent them, based on what made me fall in love with computing so many years ago:


Congratulations on your kickstarter success!

I realise you’re probably inundated with ideas for your console, but since you asked, and as one of the first 1000 kickstarter backers, here’s mine! 😛

I’d like to see it ship with a really simple development environment built in, sort of an updated version of the BASIC that shipped with the Commodore64 (showing my age now). Perhaps you could use a customized version of this successful (and open source I think) android version of BASIC:


The idea of being able to create and distribute apps on the device itself (after plugging in a keyboard and mouse) just appeals to me somehow.

It might lead to younger kids getting into programming, or at least allow them to appreciate it more.

Plus there’s just something magical about plugging a device into your TV and making software with it (wipes nostalgic tear from eye).

That’s all for now!

Skevos Mavros

Nokia n97 v2 Firmware and Optus

I sometimes think Optus sales reps will say almost anything to make a sale or get the customer to commit to another two-year contract.

I sometimes think Optus sales reps will say almost anything to make a sale or get the customer to commit to another two-year mobile phone contract.  You know the people I mean, the ones that call you offering to make your mobile plan cheaper (why call –  just do it!), or sell you a plan for a wireless adapter/dongle thingie for your laptop, that sort of thing.  I’ve had unpleasant experiences with them in the past.

Promises Promises

This time around a sales rep called and offered to waive the last five months of my two-year mobile phone contract and send me out a new phone if I commit to another two years.  Nothing wrong with that, so I accepted.

But he also talked me  out of waiting for an iPhone and into getting a Nokia N97 on the promise that the new v2 Operating Software for the N97 was great.  The sales rep even claimed to own an N97 himself and to have upgraded the OS, and praised all the cool new features v2 offered.  Since I already own an iPod Touch, I went for the Nokia N97.


Well, the phone arrived, and it’s a great unit, plus the 3G coverage out where I live is vastly better than my old phone’s reception.  So I have no real complaints with the phone itself at all.

BUT there is no upgrade to software v2 available for it in Australia under Optus — not by using the PC application, and not using the phone’s built in updater.  This kind of deception (dare I call it lying?) to make a sale leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth.  And it’s so pointless — there’s nothing really wrong with the current OS on the phone, but I was sold the new OS, and was delivered the old one.  It’s basic customer service — If I pay for X, don’t deliver Y.  It’s made worse when watching a video that shows the significant differences between the two versions:

My phone runs like the one on the left of screen in that video.  My attempts to get an answer out of Optus about why the firmware isn’t upgradeable is an exercise in futility.  They connected me to “Nokia Australia” in the end (the nice lady at Nokia “Australia” had a mild Indian accent, but maybe she was in Australia), and after a ten minute circular conversation she eventually put me on to the local Nokia Customer Care Center in Brisbane.  Now those guys responded very quickly to my email, but all they could do was inform me that, yes indeed, the upgrade is available to generic N97s, but not the Optus ones.

So the score is Optus 0, Nokia 1, Me 0.  Perhaps Nokia should let Optus know they have sales reps making promises the Optus network can’t deliver (yet).

Not The First Time

Almost a year ago I had a similar annoying experience where an Optus sales rep called me and promised to send me a wireless dongle but to also lower my mobile fees by the same amount as the internet service attached to the dongle – effectively making the wireless plan free.  Of course I said yes, but shortly later someone else rang to confirm the deal and they denied that such a generous offer was possible.  So I withdrew my acceptance (which they weren’t happy about), but the dongle arrived anyway.  I wasn’t home to receive it, so it went back, and after a couple of confusing calls I later did get a call apologising for the mix up.

They also assured me that the sales rep that made the “generous” invalid offer no longer worked there.

But after today, I’m not so sure.



ZoomIt is the best PC-desktop-screen-zoomer-inner-thingy I’ve ever seen – and it’s free!  Great for zooming in on presentations or during software demos – both of which I do at home and at the QSFT.  I wish I had found it earlier.  Here’s a quick video of me using it (be sure to select HD mode when viewing it).

I’ve been looking for a smooth screen-zooming tool ever since I saw uber geek Chris Prillo use one on his desktop when demonstrating software and websites during his YouTube videos. His PC is probably more powerful than mine, but I could see he wan’t using the standard Windows magnifier, which magnifies a screen area into a separate window – his zoomer was zooming the whole screen into itself.  ZoomIt seems to offer the same effect, and as well as being free, it’s also tiny – less than 300KB, allows you to draw and write on the zoomed in desktop, and on Vista the magnified desktop is “live”, rather than a freeze-frame.

And yes, Mac lovers, this desktop zoom effect is standard on recent Macs – I know, I know.