Sunday, 31 July 2005

Ice-cream, smoothies and gazpacho

The ice-cream I did yesterday with my new toy turned out great. The only problem is that my freezer is in serious need of defrosting so it was a bit overzealous in freezing the ice-cream which means it was rock hard and I couldn't scoop it. I had to cut pieces with a warm knife. But once it was slightly warmer it was great. I'm sure there are some ingredients I could add to prevent it from becoming rock hard. I shall investigate.

On the smoothies front, I improved the recipe by replacing half the milk with yogurt and using only fruits that have no pips or where the pips are easy to remove, such as bananas and pears. The result is a definite improvement.

I got a bit more adventurous tonight and decided to attempt a using an online recipe as a base. Having no celery, parsley or chives I had to simplify the recipe a bit. I also replaced the Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces with a combination of chilies and sauce, so that it would be reasonably high on the Scoville scale: a real gazpacho needs to have a bit of a kick to it.

And for those who like stats, this is post number 200 in this weblog.

Saturday, 30 July 2005

CSS Superscript and Subscript Using Relative Position

You might have noticed in my previous post that the note references in the body of the text were displayed as superscript. Now sup and sub are tags and should be avoided because the presentation should be in the CSS. However, there is no immediate CSS property for superscript and subscript. Here is a solution using the relative value of the position property. Let's take fractions as an example and assume I want to write 3/17. I will use classes fnum and fden for the fraction numerator and denominator respectively.

The first step is to make the text smaller, 70% should be fine. Then we need to offset it vertically. The best way to do this is to use position:relative. For the superscript, it's easy, just push it up from the bottom by 0.5em. For the subscript it is a bit more difficult. Using the top property has no effect so instead we are going to use a negative bottom property to push it down. Here is the resulting code:

.fnum {
  bottom: 0.5em;
.fden {

This works but looks weird for the denominator because, in a fraction, the forward slash (/) character between the numerator and denominator leaves a lot of white space in front of the denominator. The solution for this is to slightly shift the left margin of the denominator: margin-left:-0.2em. Why not use the fact that we are using a relative position and add left:-0.2em instead? This is because the left property shifts the content of the display box but not the box itself and it would leave a gap on the right of the denominator. The margin-left property will shift the whole box and modify the right margin as well. Of course, none of this applies for a standard subscript such as the one used in chemical fomulae like C2H5OH. That's one more reason to use semantic HTML and CSS: you can adjust the display of each individual element depending on their meaning so that they look good in context.


Following the comments below, here's a simpler solution to achieve the same thing courtesy of

.fnum {
  vertical-align: super;
.fden {
  vertical-align: sub;
.atomnum {
  vertical-align: sub;

I also agree that in an ideal world we would use MathML to display mathematical formulae but a number of major browsers (this one in particular) don't support MathML so for web documents, we have to do with HTML and CSS.

Poor DHL, Great Smoothies

A few days ago I found a delivery notice from DHL in my letter box, telling me that they had tried to deliver me a parcel but as I wasn't at home they took it back to their depot in Park Royal, West London, not very far from where I live, as the crow flies. However, getting there on public transport involves a 1 hour journey on 2 buses. So that's at least 2 hours there and back. Knowing this, I called them earlier during the week to see if we could arrange for a new delivery. It turns out that DHL don't deliver on Saturdays and can't deliver to my work address because it is not the same depot. So I had no alternative other than going to the Park Royal depot on a Saturday morning. I did so this morning. In the process, I discovered that the map printed on the notice is incorrect: the Asda store is not where the map puts it. This is quite important considering it's a major landmark there and you can't rely on street names because there are virtually no street signs in that area11 The English have this very annoying habit of having street signs only at major junctions and only if they really feel like it; and don't get me started on house numbers in the street. Furthermore, the DHL depot is only indicated by a small DHL sign hidden behind a tree just outside the depot. If you don't know exactly where it is, you will never find it.

As a result it took me slightly longer than expected to get there. But I did get there in the end and got my parcel. It was worth all the pain. The parcel in question contained a Braun Multiquick professional MR 5550 M BC-HC blender that I bought from Amazon. This thing is the Rolls-Royce of blenders: it can do all the normal things a hand held blender can do plus all sorts of cool stuff like smoothies, crushed ice22 Essential for cocktails, whipped cream, etc. So after dropping it home, I went to the shops to buy fruit, milk and cream and decided to try it out. It took a few minutes to have a raspberry and blueberry smoothie to die for. Then I got adventurous. The home made ice-cream is now in the freezer. It is probably worth 42 gazillion points on the Weight Watchers scale but it's all natural stuff.

It's Raining Again

As Supertramp would say, it's raining again. Now, we're supposed to be in summer, the sunny season when you can go to the beach and have barbecues in the garden. I don't thing the English weather understands the concept of summer.

Thursday, 28 July 2005

Two Hour Delay

I was in Amsterdam yesterday for work. I was flying back early this morning. Well, that was the theory. We got on the plane and it looked like we were ready to leave when the pilot told us he had been asked to wait at the stand for 45 minutes because the weather was so bad in London the queue to land at Heathrow was huge and they preferred to land the planes that were already flying before allowing other flights towards London to take off. In the end, we stayed 2 hours on the tarmac waiting for air control to give us the all clear. When we landed the weather was grey but warm and mostly dry so Heathrow was going back to normal. Surely, they should be able to cope with bad weather better? It's not as if it never happened in London!

Tuesday, 26 July 2005

1933 Photos

I've been busy over the past few days uploading photographs from Latin America to my flickr photo stream. In fact, it took very little of my time to do it, thanks to the flickr uploadr, the automated batch upload tool. You just grab lots of pictures, give the tool a set of tags it will apply to all the pictures, start the upload and it will do everything itself, while you are busy doing something else, such as attending a meeting. As a result my photo stream now has 1933 photos! It's now that the real work starts though: for each and everyone of them I need to make sure its title and description are meaningful; that its tags are correct; that the time of the shot is close to reality; etc. I will go through them slowly. And when I'm done I have many more to upload.

Sunday, 24 July 2005

Marzipan Long Jump

You can do amazing things with marzipan, as demonstrated by this great picture. I just love it!

Saturday, 23 July 2005

Wet Party

I am supposed to go to a party tonight. But considering how heavily it is raining outside, I think I might stay at home, warm and dry, rather than be drenched by wandering outside. This is when you fully understand the English expression it is raining cats and dogs or the equivalent French expression il pleut des cordes, literally it is raining ropes. It looks to me like it's the ideal evening to be uploading pictures to flickr.

Wednesday, 20 July 2005


Did I recently said that iTunes sold all albums at a fixed price of £7.90? Yes I did. This is nonsense. It took Deacon Blue to show me the errors of my way but this is absolutely not true. £7.90 is more like their minimum price for an album. It would make sense for them to have a fixed price though, for the reasons explained below, but this is a completely different argument.

Monday, 18 July 2005

Page Turners

I got a new copy of the book I forgot in St James's Park and finished it yesterday. If you have any interest in languages and in particular unusual and threatened languages, I suggest you find a copy of Spoken Here by Mark Abley. It is really well written and if you live in or come from a region where a minority language is still spoken, it might make you want to learn it. It definitely made me want to learn Breton, the language of Brittany, the region of France where I was born.

Then, this afternoon, I decided I needed something else to read so I went to the pile of unread books I have in the living room and picked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. I started reading it. And then I just couldn't stop. As it is written in the first person, from the point of view of an autistic child, it immerses you in the story in a way that no other book does, apart maybe from Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. I just couldn't put the book down and have just finished it. The Curious Incident... got rare reviews when it came out, which always makes me a bit cautious. But in this case, every single review of praise is deserved. If you only read one book on the beach this summer, it has to be this one, except if you've read it before.

Saturday, 16 July 2005

Thank You!

I have been overwhelmed over the last week by the number of people who called me or sent me a message to ask how I was after the terrorist attacks on London. I am sure I am not the only one to whom this happened here as it has really touched the whole world. I was lucky enough to be nowhere near the blasts when it all happened but receiving those messages really meant a lot to me. The ones that really made me feel good came from France, Spain, Mexico, Guatemala, Russia, Singapore and Azerbaijan. Those who sent them know who they are so I just want to say to them: Thank You!

Dodgy Minicab

I went out tonight and was on Piccadilly looking for a cab about 30 minutes ago. I asked this minicab how much he would charge to take me home. The answer was £25, to which I answered that he could find another customer because I would not pay that amount of money. I eventually found a black cab who charged me £22. That a minicab could actually ask me more than a black cab would charge me, while keeping a straight face, is just ridiculous. That's one more reason not to trust them.

Thursday, 14 July 2005

I Hate Chewing Gum

Especially the type that is left on the pavement or on a chair or anywhere where someone else might step or sit on it. Surely, it's not that difficult to keep the wrapper, put the gum in the wrapper when finished and then throw it in the bin?

Where were the French?

Tonight I went to St James's Park because there alledgedly was a big event organised around the Inn The Park bar and restaurant, to celebrate Bastille Day, the French National Holiday. The actual day is the 14th of July but the evening of the 13th is usually when people party, organise fireworks, etc.; the 14th is then dedicated to official celebrations involving a lot of military marches and official speeches in all main towns. So I was expecting a reasonably large crowd, considering the number of French people living in London, as well as some real celebration and some sort of pyrotechnics. Not only was there no fireworks but there were very few French people. Nobody would have ever guessed it was a special day.

Then, there was Inn The Park. The venue is beautiful but the drinks cost a fortune, even for the area, and the service is not very good. There was some confusion on closing time: from what I understood, if you were only drinking, you could only be served until 11pm but if you were having food as well you could be served until 11:30. However, they got quite confused and we ended up with a couple of extra beers after official drinking-only closing time. The location of the place is fantastic but it doesn't justify the price nor the poor service.

Then I forgot my book there so I got very bored on the tube journey home. I'll have to go back and see if they found it or buy a new copy.

All wasn't bad though: St James's Park is a beautiful place and I was with friends, in very good company. A good evening all round.

Wednesday, 13 July 2005

ICE: In Case of Emergency

I received this at work recently and, like Coofer Cat thought it was a joke but it is in fact very serious.

East Anglian Ambulance Service have launched a national In case of Emergency (ICE) campaign with the support of Falklands war hero Simon Weston and in association with Vodafone's annual life savers award.

The idea is that you store the word ICE in your mobile phone address book, and against it enter the number of the person you would want to be contacted In Case of Emergency. In an emergency situation ambulance and hospital staff will then be able to quickly find out who your next of kin are and be able to contact them.

It's so simple—everyone can do it. Please do. Please will you also forward this to everybody in your address book, it won't take too many ‘forwards’ before everybody will know about this. It really could save your life.

More on the subject:

Tuesday, 12 July 2005

The Pains of Palm are the Joys of eBay

Since I recently managed to sync my Palm Tungsten T3 with my Mac using the original cradle but completely failed to do the same over Bluetooth, I have been considering buying a second cradle so that I would have one in the office and one at home. Now, I am the sort of person who will go directly to the vendor and buy the original kit at the original price, rather than look for a cheap or second hand alternative anywhere else. Following this logic, I went to palmOne and searched the accessories section for a cradle that would work with the T3. This should have been simple considering the T3 is one of the later models so should still be reasonably widely supported. It appears this is not the case. Since palmOne came out with the LifeDrive and the Tungsten T5, the T3 is not sold anymore, nor are any of the accessories and peripherals, at least on the UK site. Of course, accessories and peripherals for the LifeDrive or the T5 are not compatible with the T3.

Drawing a blank at the palmOne UK store, I had a look on the US one. I found what I was looking for in the shape of a mini USB cradle. Unfortunately, they are out of stock and have no indication as to when they will have more items. My guess is never. So I sent them a short email, which I thought was straight to the point:

I am looking for a second hotsync cradle for my Tungsten T3. The UK store doesn't have anything for T3 anymore. The US store seems to have the "palmOne™ Mini Cradle, USB" but is apparently out of stock. Is there any way for me to now find equipment for my T3 considering it is completely out of the question for me to upgrade it?

I got an answer very quickly:

Dear Valued Customer,

Products sold online at the PalmOne store represent a wide variety of PDAs smartphones and accessories. From time to time, temporary lack of inventory forces us to remove a product or products from our store until we are able to replenish our supply. In the event that you have previously seen a product on our store and cannot find it, please contact our customer support team at 800-881-7256 for assistance locating the item you wish to purchase. If you are waiting for the release of a new product, please check our New Products page at, or for the latest news on upcoming products and other events visit our Press Room at

If this automated e-mail does not answer your question(s), please contact our Customer Service department using our toll free number, 800-881-7256. Our Customer Service is open 24 hours a day seven days a week to better serve you.

Please note: This is an automated response to your e-mail. You will not receive another response. Do not respond to this e-mail.

Best regards,

Customer Support at

You will note the introduction: Dear Valued Customer and the note: This is an automated response to your e-mail. You will not receive another response. So Mr palmOne, you send me an automated email that doesn't answer my question and you make sure to tell me I will not receive any other email. I have to call a phone number in the US instead. Good job I'm a valued customer! I dread to think what you would have sent me if I was just a standard customer! And by the way, I am not really interested in yourmarketingg stuff thank you very much. However, I'd really, really like it if you could support your older products a bit better than this. Contrary to what you may think, I am not planning to upgrade to a T5 of a LifeDrive anytime soon.

The standard route being completely hopeless, I turned to the primary source on the net for accessories for hardware that is no longer supported: eBay. Sure enough, I found what I was looking for in a few minutes, for a fraction of the official palmOne price**Assuming I am not outbid by the time the bid closes that is. It was quite straightforward to set up an eBay account because, believe it or not, I had never used eBay before. The bid system is also very straightforward so it took me a few minutes to get myself sorted. If all goes well, I should very shortly be able to sync both at work and at home, without having to carry a cradle around. I also know now that the next time I want some accessories for my T3, I won't look on palmOne.

The Price of Music

Since I bought my Mac, I have been discovering . With iTunes, I have also been discovering the iTunes Music Store. Some would say it is yet another tempting way to spend a lot of money with evil music empires, without realising it because it is so easy to buy something in the store through the iTunes interface.

An interesting aspect of the iTunes store is that all songs are priced the same at £0.79; all albums as well at £7.90. It makes sense because the iTunes store doesn't need a stock. All they sell is an electronic version of the music, which people download. This means that contrary to the normal offer and demand logic prevalent on the high street, they don't have to price their offering depending on how popular it is. Whether an album is downloaded once a month or 10 times a second doesn't matter, it just use a minimal amount of hard disk space. Thus they are shielded from stock issues: you can never have an item that runs out of stock nor can you ever have unsold stock of any item. They don't need to price popular items higher because they will never run out of copies and they can keep selling them. Similarly they don't need to discount unpopular items because it doesn't cost them anything to keep them. In practice, selling a song once will pay several times over for the amount of disk space it uses.

Compare this to your standard high street store. Everything they sell is a physical item that uses store space and that they have in finite quantities. If a brand new album is extremely popular, like Coldplay's X&Y, they can potentially price it higher because they know they will sell it. If they have large stocks of an older album they can't shift, they'll discount it, sometimes very heavily, on the grounds that selling something very cheap is still better than not selling it at all.

Now that's basic economics, not rocket science. But it's something that we, as consumers, can use to our advantage. Last Sunday, I went to my local MVC store. I went directly to the discount section and only looked at what was under £7.90, on the grounds that anything over that price would be cheaper at the iTunes store. I left the store with 6 albums for a total cost of £26, that is £4.33 per CD. Fair enough, one of them doesn't read in any of my CD players so I'll have to go back next week-end to exchange it but at the end of the day it means that, in theory, I could get all the music I want for a maximum of £7.90 per album. Of course, in practice, there are a lots of caveats: music I have only in electronic form is at the mercy of a computer crash, although I can make a backup copy and CDs deteriorate too; I don't have the nice leaflet with the lyrics when buying through iTunes not the feeling of actually holding something in my hand; I have eclectic tastes so there are a lot of things I simply won't find on iTunes. But beyond this, I reckon the only reason I'll buy an original CD again for a stupid price is if it comes with extras, such as the Gorillaz albums that typically come with stuff like screen savers or wallpapers for your computer.

From 79 to 182

In a previous post, I mentioned that when I connected to Blogger, the displayed total number of posts was stuck at 79. Obviously, they solved this small glitch because today it showed 182. Well, it will be 183 with this one.

Friday, 8 July 2005

Terrorist Logic

noun: the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion

When the underground train I was in this morning stopped at Hammersmith and we were told that all services had been suspended, we all thought 'here we go again, the tube is falling to pieces' as we filed out of the station. What was really happening though was beyond anybody's imagination. After yesterday's euphoria at getting the 2012 Olympic games, nobody could have thought that the city was under attack. But under attack it was and, if we are to believe this article from The Register that quotes the Islamist website that supposedly claimed responsibility for the bombings, terror was exactly what it was all about:

[...]The heroic mujahideen have carried out a blessed raid in London. Britain is now burning with fear, terror and panic in its northern, southern, eastern, and western quarters.[...]

To the risk of disappointing some of the heroic mujahideen, if London is burning tonight, it is not with fear and terror, but with a determination not to give in to the terrorist blackmail. Part of it is no doubt due to the amazing response of the emergency services and infrastructure of the city. As far as I know, within minutes, the following happened:

  • The whole underground network was evacuated and closed off. This in itself is an amazing feat if you consider that the London underground carries about 3 million passengers a day and it was rush hour.
  • All buses in central London were evacuated and called back to depot.
  • Police, fire fighters and ambulance crews were deployed on the scenes of the blasts, while they were cordoned off.
  • All major mobile phone networks removed a large proportion of their bandwidth from public usage to reserve it for emergency services.

The most amazing was the reaction of the Londoners themselves. There was no panic. Everybody kept calm, was very understanding of the situation and found alternative solutions to get to where they needed to go. It was business as usual, refusing to give in to the terror, which was obviously the point of those attacks, all in typically cool British fashion. Such as when someone called our offices from abroad, asking for our salesman and unaware of what was happening in London, the person who took the call answered in a very matter of fact way: No, Jason is not in today, we've had a bit of a bother with transport here in London. Of course, we did spend a lot of time checking the news to know and understand what was happening, calling family and friends or checking how we would get home in the evening. But most of all, people tried to have a normal work day. Then when it got time to go home, people, who would normally catch a train or a bus, took the river boats or simply walked. Then by 6pm buses started being put back into service, especially on the remaining routes, probably because those buses require a conductor and are therefore inherently safer (but this is only me speculating). And tomorrow should be back to normal with full tube and bus services.

What happened in London today was terrible and senseless. Our thoughts are with the families of the dead and wounded but if the aim was to make the people of London burn with fear, terror and panic, it has failed. Tonight, I am proud to be a Londoner, albeit an adopted one.

Monday, 4 July 2005

Synchronising a Palm Tungsten T3 with a Power Mac

There is one thing I have wanted to do since I got my : sync my with it so that I would get all my address book and calendar data on the Mac. So I brought my cradle back from the office tonight to see what I could achieve.


Breaking all geek customs, I decided to before attempting to do anything. I shall probably burn in geek hell for all eternity for that cowardly act but here is what I found:

  1. palmOne article on how to sync a Palm device using iSync,
  2. Apple article on how to sync a Palm device using iSync,
  3. palmOne article on how to sync a Palm device over Bluetooth with iSync,
  4. Apple article on how to sync a Palm device over Bluetooth with iSync.

Lo and behold, not only did I have documentation on how to sync my Palm but also how to do it over , feat that I had never managed on my work laptop. Full of hope, I got going.

Install Palm Desktop for OS-X

The very first step is to install the Palm Desktop. I downloaded version 4.2.1 for Mac OS-X. The installation was quick and easy, as is normally the case on a Mac. I opened the application to find a calendar, address book, todo list, etc. that were completely empty, as expected.

Sync using the cradle

The next step was to sync the Palm with the Palm Desktop using the cradle. In theory, I just had to plug in the cradle into a port, put the handheld in the cradle and press the HotSync button. In practice, this is exactly what I had to do: it work first time. So far, so good.

Set up iSync to work with the Palm

Having done this, I wanted to set up to synchronise with the handheld so that the information would end up in standard OS-X applications like iCal, rather than Palm Desktop. The reason for this is that I can then use this information with tools like and it is generally better integrated.

At this point, the documentation found earlier proved essential. Well, at least the Apple documentation[2] because the palmOne documentation[1] is incorrect: iSync needs to be configured to support the Palm before its conduit can be enabled. This is explained in step 2 of the Apple documentation. This step also disabled the standard Palm conduits that have the same function as the iSync ones so I didn't need to do it manually, contrary to what the palmOne documentation says.

Once this hurdle past, either of the two documentations was correct. When all was done, I synchronised the Palm again, iSync sprang into action and my data was uploaded into iCal and Address Book. I discovered when doing this that iSync has a safeguard requiring you to confirm the operation if more than 25% of the information in iCal or Address Book is to be updated, which was the case considering both were completely empty.

At this point, I had my Palm sync'ing with the Mac, the same way as my work laptop so I had the essentials sorted out. Everything beyond this would be nice but not essential.

Sync over Bluetooth

We, as in us the unsuspecting public, have been solved Bluetooth as the magic solution to connect devices wirelessly and exchange data easily without having to deal with all those pesky wires. My experience so far has been that the Palm Tungsten T3's implementation is so flaky that I haven't yet managed to do anything useful with it. I hoped I would be proved wrong.

So I eagerly read through the palmOne[3] and Apple[4] documentation on how to get the whole thing to work over Bluetooth. Neither of them explain very well how to connect the two devices together. But as I had done it in the past and both see each other as trusted devices, it should have been no problem. Except that neither iSync nor Palm HotSync Manager seemed to recognise that my Palm could be synchronised with anything when accessed over Bluetooth. As far as those tools were concerned, my Palm didn't exist, even if the Mac itself recognised it. Well, it sort of recognised it in the sense that it was aware of its existence as a Bluetooth device but believed the Palm had no service that it could use, not even simple file exchange.

Considering I had had a similar problem with this Palm when trying to connect it to my work PC over Bluetooth, I assumed it was the Palm being flaky and looked around the palmOne site to see what I could find. I found that I could apply a ROM update. I decided to give it a try.

The first attempt got me the very unhelpful message: The application cannot be launched because it is missing localization information.

Digging a bit on the palmOne website, I found that I had forgotten to install the localisation overlay file. The file TT3Update.prc was not enough, I also needed TT3Update_enUS.prc. Fair enough, second try. This time I got the message: The ROM on this device has already been updated.

At this point, I decided to go and have dinner and forget about synchronising my Palm over Bluetooth. At least for today.

Sunday, 3 July 2005

4000 songs, 12.3 days, 16.08 GB

This is what the bottom of my window shows when I select the whole library. I just finished ripping my complete CD collection and bought 30 tracks at the iTunes store. I knew that, over the years, I had spent an inordinate amount of money in record stores. I just wasn't aware how much. And that's only because I don't follow the charts and haven't been buying much music lately. I can't imagine how many tracks would the collection of someone who is really into music come to. As you might expect, there are a lot of those songs that I haven't listened to in ages.

As someone who is not really into music, how did I manage to amass so much music over time? There are two reasons really. I have fairly eclectic tastes and my music collection includes a bit of everything, from classical to heavy metal with a lot of 80s in the middle, some techno, jazz, soundtracks but also a large amount of what you could call world music: French rock, Euro pop, Spanish heavy metal and Celtic rock** Yes I do mean Spanish Celtic rock, check out the Celtas Cortos, Breton traditional songs, etc. The second reason could be called the album effect: I have a lot of albums I bought because I wanted a couple of tracks and got another eight or so bundled with them. This is the typical problem with the music industry, you can't pick and choose. Although, electronic stores like iTunes may be the solution to this as they can sell you individual tracks without you having to buy the whole album. In fact, that's how I have been using it. Most of the 30 songs I bought from iTunes are individual tracks taken from albums of artists I don't really know so it's a good way to get a taster at a reasonable price. Then maybe later I will buy more from them, potentially full albums.

Apart from realising how much I have spent in record stores, the result of me spending time ripping all those CDs means that I now have all my music on my computer. I can stream it to the living room's stereo and have music all day without having to change a CD. Or I can create a smart playlist and organise a party without having to be the DJ. Now that sounds like a plan.

Visit Earth the Google Way

, in their never ending quest for new ways to use and distribute information, have come up with a new toy. Take satellite and aerial photographs; combine them with geographical data, such as borders or location of towns and cities; add information from Google Local; package the whole thing in a nice little application that can stream all this data from the Google servers. The result is Google Earth.

The application is extremely fast and nicely done. You can fly from one point on the planet to another. The quality of the satellite and aerial data varies depending on where you are but above major cities like London, the details are such that I can identify my house and the tree in front of it. With my parents house, which is in an area that also has very detailed coverage, not only can I identify the house exactly but I can make out the terrace at the back. Looking closely, you even notice darker areas: the top floor bedroom windows. So I can point out my childhood bedroom. Spooky.

Beyond this, it is amazing to look at natural and man made wonders from above. The pyramids in Giza, near Cairo, are one of the most impressive ones. Other amazing places include the Amazon basin and other major river deltas, major mountain ranges such as the Himalayas or the Andes. This is a fantastic tool to learn the geography of our planet while having fun. It's a shame they only do a Windows version though.