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Mike Wilson - Page 4 of 21 - Busy Dad, Software Developer & Business Owner
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Giffgaff Micro SIM

Giffgaff Micro SIM

Would you like to join the UK’s fastest growing and best value for money pay-as-you-go (PAYG) mobile network? Would you like a free £5 top-up with it too (£5 will be added to your account upon activation of your first top up)? Then you’ve come to the right blog Smile

GiffGaff is wholly owned by O2 and runs on their network and offers very good value for money, especially when paired with a smartphone such as an iPhone 4 / 4s, Blackberry Bold or any of the HTC Android or Windows Smartphones.

GiffGaff are a SIM-only, community-powered mobile network and I can highly recommend them. The only downside is that they use the O2 network – which might be fine for your area. I get good data speeds on them in town but in the country the reception can be a little flaky. Like all mobile networks, O2 are working on improving coverage.


But GiffGaff only provide standard SIMs, they do not provide Micro SIMs. If you want a Micro SIM, you’ll have to cut one yourself or have someone do it for you. I can cut and send a Micro SIM to you – FOR FREE – if you fill out the form below.

What about data/contract use?

In addition to having an incredibly competitive tariff, GiffGaff also allow you to purchase goodybags. These are a mix of minutes, texts and data. Unlimited Internet (subject to “acceptable use policy”) and when you purchase any goodybag you’ll get free GiffGaff to Giffgaff calls for for three months. (The £5 goodybag an excellent choice for children and grandparents).

image image

I switched from Tesco Mobile £20 per month on O2 to GiffGaff and saved my business £10 per month as I use the £10 Goodybag each month. I find that it is more than enough for all my business/work calls and I get to call and text my friends (also on GiffGaff) for free. Also sometimes Tesco would make a mistake with the billing (this happened on more than one occasion over a year) and would place extra charges on top of the agreed £20 each month. Tesco were also difficult to get VAT invoices from.


If you want a STANDARD SIM, click here to order one.

Privacy Note: This form uses Google Docs and after I post out your SIM card I will remove your name and address from the spreadsheet.


Steve Jobs

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs (during his 2005 Stanford University Commencement Address).


Analytics search terms in motion

How did I miss this?

Google’s Analytics has a motion chart feature which shows not only the top keyword search terms, but how they move over time allowing you to more easily identify and spot trends over time.

Quickly taking a look at my blog’s data for last week shows this (I turned trace on to show the past few movements):


It appears that most visitors come to my blog searching for (of all things), how to get a discount at the Apple Store.

I also posted up some info on the ill-fated NASA UARS satellite which crashed into the Pacific Ocean, just like buy testogel online build testosterone gel at age the orange blob here representing the blog post’s search traffic Smile

Going back a month or more, I can see where the various blobs jumps ahead of the usual motion (such as when someone links to the blog post in a forum). I’m totally sold on this method of representing data after seeing a Hans Rosling talk at TED (online) and wished there was something similar for web analytics!

My challenge now is to figure out a way to usefully get these charts into my applications….

Hans Rosling: No more boring data: TEDTalks

Are you using Google’s Motion Chart feature to track keyword traffic?

Happy Visualising! Smile


Apple made a big deal during the presentation about how talk time is longer with the new iPhone 4s. However what they didn’t mention is that web browsing and standby time (according to their own statistics) are reduced!

iPhone 4iPhone 4S
Talk time 3G7 hours8 hours (+1 hour)
Talk time 2G14 hours14 hours
Standby time300 hours200 hours (-100 hours)
Internet use 3G6 hours6 hours
Internet use Wi-Fi10 hours9 hours (-1 hour)
Video playbackUp to 10 hoursUp to 10 hours
Audio playbackUp to 40 hoursUp to 40 hours

Not exactly a scandal, but I was really hoping for across the board enhanced battery life from the iPhone 4s. Both the processors of the current iPhone 4 (A4) and the newer iPhone 4S (A5) use a 45 nanometer process and perhaps if Apple move to a 32 nanometer or smaller process in their next chip we’ll see efficiency gains up front as a line one item on the next iPhone’s keynote (WWDC July?).


Phone 4 (from
iPhone 4S (from


Me, at the Berlin Wall

On November 9th the Berlin Wall fell and this eight year old Mike was there. My dad found this photo amongst a collection of old slides and as a thirty year old father of one, it brought back memories; we used to cross the wall (via Checkpoint Charlie) from West Germany into Soviet/Communist controlled East Germany.

East Germany was a terribly drab place and all my memories of East Germany are in black and white, much like the architecture and the depressed emotions of the locals. They were depressed of course – West Germany was modern and had all the money, jobs and freedoms the western world enjoyed. Those on the eastern side of the wall (some cut off from their families in the west) could see the relatively decadent and carefree lives of those on the west. The penalty for crossing the wall or attempting to flee East Germany? Death by sniper.

We of course went over to East Germany as military tourists (my dad would have to wear a full parade uniform for the duration of the trip — even on hot sunny days) and we would have to pass through a selection of checkpoints to show papers and have our belongings and vehicle inspected by dog-carrying, kalashnikov-wielding soviet soldiers.

Via Flickr:
This is me and I’m standing on pieces of the Berlin wall just a day or two after it fell on November 9th 1989. (I was eight years old).


M45 – The Pleiades

“Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising through the mellow shade,
Glitter like a swarm of fire-flies tangled in a silver braid.”
– from “Locksley Hall” by Lord Tennyson

M45 - The Pleiades

I wasn’t going to post this shot since there’s so much technically wrong with it (uncompensated-for amp glow, underexposed flats, poor alignment, insufficient data, light pollution gradients and coma), but it’s my favourite star cluster and worthwhile blogging the picture if only as a record Smile

The Pleiades are a prominent group of stars, easily spotted in the northern hemisphere night sky. If you have keen vision you may be able to make out seven stars although the cluster contains over 1,000 confirmed stars. These stars are young, hot and blue and are travelling through a region of dust and gas which reflects the light from the blue stars giving us this faint blue wispy hue.

The name “Pleiades” comes from ancient Greek mythology and refers to the seven celestial sisters who all became mothers of various Gods.


Latest UARS satellite times…

EDIT 22:25 GMT: Follow the track of the satellite LIVE here:

A satellite currently the size of a fridge freezer is currently falling to earth and within a couple of hours of this blog post is likely to have already completed it’s re-entry. Nobody knows where it’s going to land but according to the latest estimates, this satellite will be visible from the northern hemisphere, looking south it will probably move across the sky from the right to the left (west to east) at 23:00. Estimates vary, so if you want to see the satellite, go outside somewhere with a clear view to the south and watch from about 10:45 until 11:15.


The UARS satellite completed it’s 14 year mission from 1991 to 2005 and it has been passively orbiting Earth for the past six years. (It was expected to fall back to Earth and burn up back in 2009 or 2010).

Russian Roulette?

Not quite. Neil deGrasse Tyson, scientist & educator says on Twitter:

“Earth, in orbit, plows through several hundred tons of meteors per day. So we’ll all survive Friday’s 6-ton falling satellite” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

The crucial difference here is that this satellite contains many constituent fairly large parts that will easily withstand the re-entry temperatures and will be impact the ground. NASA give odds of the satellite colliding with somebody at 1 in 3000 although they don’t give odds for the satellite parts breaking up and hitting multiple people Smile Fortunately most of the earth is covered in ocean so the satellite parts will likely land there. It wouldn’t be the first that a piece of space junk has hit someone.

The odds, however of the satellite hitting YOU are much smaller – in the magnitude of 1 in many trillion. In the words of the UK’s National Lottery, “It could be you…” Smile

image“It’s you….!”

I’ll be outside trying to capture it with my camera Smile

The science obtained from UARS:


Gamma Cygni (y Cyg) “Sadr” in Cygnus

If you live in the northern hemisphere, far overhead during the summer and autumn months is the constellation Cygnus the swan. Sadr is the pulsating star in the middle and this constellation effectively marks an area more or less in the middle of the Milky Way so in this unique image taken only a few nights ago, you are looking directly towards the middle of the galaxy through the spiral arms.

The red dust is caused by dense clouds of Hydrogen gas which are heated by nearby stars which causes them to emit a reddish glow. These clouds of gas and dust collapse under gravity to form stars. This is how stars are made.

Sadr - Star and Nebulosity in Milky Way (10x300s) (18-09-2011)-Stacked-Complete
to see a larger version on Flickr

This particular image was the first light test of some recent astronomy equipment acquisitions and unfortunately during the test, one of our neighbours left their security light on all night (they’ve gone on holiday and left it on day and night it seems…). This caused a rather nasty colour gradient in the image which before I could remove I had to learn some colour processing skills in Photoshop first!

It was also my first night using a (decent) APO refractor.

Stats: Orion ED80T CF (80mm APO), Astronomik CLS, 10 x 5 minute exposures at –25c.

image(the original unprocessed version with the harsh colour gradient)


The supernova of a generation

29 million years ago in a galaxy far far away, a little star and a big star were having a dance amongst the billions of other stars together making the shape of a giant pinwheel.

The little star had been pulling the mass from it’s bigger companion like a spinning wheel pulls cotton from a larger reel.

Then the little star eventually gained so much mass that it exploded and became brighter than all of the hundred billion stars around it.

This supernova explosion can be seen all over the northern hemisphere (UK, US, Canada, etc) and is easily found with binoculars and amateur telescopes.

Look north and find the plough. If you see a large ‘W’ in the sky you’ve gone too far and are looking on the wrong side…

Form an equilateral triangle with the last two stars in the handle, looking outwards from the handle to find M101, the pinwheel galaxy. Depending on how good your sky, optics and eyes are you may see a faint fuzzy smear that looks like a pinwheel to a lesser or
greater degree. That smudge (if you can even see it at all) is made up of over a hundred billion stars, just very very far away. One of them will be exceptionally bright compared to the smudge. That’s a supernova.

While you’re looking at it, be very grateful that it didn’t happen closer to us since it’s the brightest supernova we’ve seen in 50 years and so devastating that any life near it would certainly be eradicated in a literal flash.


An image of M101 that I made last winter. No supernova, but if I made another image of it, the supernova will be apparent as a bright dot on one of the spiral arms.


You’ve got about a week to see it from the time this article goes live. It’s at peak brightness around now so get out and look up!


Chapstick lipstick was invented in the 1880’s to protect and gloss your precious lips. Now in 2011 you can do the same for your precious iPad or other touchscreen device with the Nuscreen HD screen polish.


It’s basically a carnuba wax, as used in all kinds of polishes and should buff up to a nice smooth shine with a slippery texture. You rub it in, wait and polish it off. It doesn’t taste especially nice and there are no fruity flavours – just plain ‘wax’ 🙂

At the time of writing, there’s no European retailer stocking these but if it works it will find a permanent home in my gadget bag. Thanks to my good friend Steve Amani for bringing me this product from the USA.

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