Monday, 14 September 2009

Preview - Heretic Pixies Halloween Editions

With Halloween coming so soon after the launch of the first Heretic Pixies resin figures we couldn't resist putting out 5 Halloween themed figures. These figures will shortly be available from our store .

The figures come in two variations - Skullz and Pum'kinz. These photos give an idea of the Skullz figures. We are currently experiementing with accessories for them and are looking at hand stitched felt hats and black cast resin demon masks, but this will be confirmed later.

The Pum'kinz are still mid paint, but this photo will give you an idea of what to expect.

Heretic Pixies - The first seven ...

I've had the idea of producing custom toys in the back of my head for a couple of years. The Heretic pixies seemed like the perfect set of characters to try and I'm pleased to say we've done it!

The figures themselves are made from my original sculpts and are cast in Easyflow 60 resin. Each pixie is individually painted - they're all different, all unique and all numbered. The platform that you can see in the image above is the first of a number of variants that we'll be producing over the coming months. Take a look at the Pale Heretic online store here to see more of the pixies ...

We also undertake commissions so if you're like a pixie, personalised for you then please get in touch.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Why Twitter maybe isn't the right choice for tech support

This post stems from my stupid typing error caused by trying to do 3 things at once. I admit that I made the mistake. What I'm lamenting is that 4 days later, I can't actually find a way to resolve the problem.

So what happened? I got my Jolicloud closed beta ID. Woot! I'm very pleased to have received it and I rushed to register my account and get the download going. This is where the error occured. In typing in my email address I manager to add an extra 'i' so that I ended up with a .co.uik domain and not the I actually own. The upshot is, that I can't get the verification email so I can't complete registering my account and can't download the software.

I do maintain that a well designed website would have been checking for legitimate domains and would have used double entry to ensure it correctly captured the email address ... but still, it was my typo.

So my first thought was 'DOH'. My second thought was 'I'll email support and they'll rescue me'. There's the problem. Jolicloud don't have an email address for their support, only a twitter address. That's the problem. Twitter is not the best place to discuss account detail, or invite codes, and despite the fact that I'm following jolisupport on twitter, since they aren't following me back I can't send them a direct (and therefore secure) message ... so I raked over their site and found the general contact email address usually reserved for press queries (judging from the topic pull-down) which worked as well as I feared: 4 days and no reply.

The invitation email says "We provide (almost) live support via our Twitter support channel:" So I decided to try an @jolisupport asking if there's a secure way to handle account support, but no answer yet.

Lesson? Don't use an unsecure or public support solution unless you provide a secure solution for account related stuff, and, write your forms with validation built in, especially if you rely on it for identity verification, oh ... the obvious one ... when you're filling in a form with important information, check it *before* you submit it!

Here's hoping *someone* from the Jolicloud team gets back to me, as I'm hoping to review it and finally see some competition for Ubuntu 9.04.

Saturday, 6 June 2009 review is one of a number of on-demand printers that provide some useful services through a web-based interface.

So far, I've had two sets of business cards and two sets of mini-cards from Moo and I'm very impressed with the quality and finish of the printwork, the price, the packaging and how easy the process of making the cards was. provides a web-based solution for setting up your cards. For mine, I chose 30-odd images from one of my flickr albums and used these as the fronts of my cards, setting up the backs with Moos tools. All very easy, and the results look great! At £10 for 100 mini-cards I recommend trying it out!

Friday, 24 April 2009

The problem with car design and the motor industry is.....

.... that the product they are selling doesn't really fit the intended use.

This post comes from a conversation a colleague and I had on the drive out to see a client.

My basic theory is this: the majority of cars that are sold today, are being sold on a range of features that aren't really compatible with safe and environmentally friendly use on urban roads.

The first part of this was sparked off by my asking 'why don't all cars sold today have a GPS linked to the engine management, so that in urban areas the speedlimits can be automatically enforced?'. This seems to me like a fairly obvious way of reducing the speed of the traffic for the price of a (guessing) £150-250 component.

My colleague pointed out that this would be a very un-popular move and probably terminal for the government that attempted to bring it in.

This prompted the discussion about cars and how they are marketed. Speed and power are very significant factors in this even still. It has been refreshing to see fuel economy finally getting the headline slot in the adverts for some cars, but it is still a minority that are discussing this.

I think the issue goes beyond the marketing however, to the way that as a product cars are designed. It seems to me that cars are being built as though for racing and then sold for use on the roads. Many cars are over-powered for the intended use, designed to deliver top-speeds far in excess of the legal speed limits and matching acceleration. Cars aren't it seems designed to operate as efficiently as possible at 30mph - the speed that most cars (used in cities or urban area) spend most of their lives driving at. To the point where in some of the cars that I've driven they are hard to keep down to the speedlimit and need to be contantly reigned in.

Hence the GPS linked speed limiting. If we continue developing cars as they currently are, designed for speed and acceleration, maybe we should be using some of the readily available technology to ensure that this power is used in an appropriate setting - the motorways, not on the urban roads.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Let them take something with them ...

When you attend a trade show, exhibition, conference it goes without saying that all the companies exhibiting their products or services will have to have a wide range of give-away items for their prospective customers to take away with them. These items serve two purposes - to remind the person who took them of the company or product and to facilitate collateral marketing where someone else sees the item and adsorbs the message from it.

So, the thing that suprises me continually with the web-in-general, is that comparatively few websites follow this metaphore through to their online activities. Provding downloadable or subscription driven content from your website is an easy way for your customers to continue their exposure to your brand after the point where they have leftyour website - and allows for the collateral marketing to take place.

Producing PDF versions of your printed materials, desktop wallpaper e-Zines and even desktop toys or games can provide a range of items that appeal to a broad cross section of your audience and allow them to pull your brand messages.

The range of desktop wallpapers available from the Pale Heretic website continually draws a significant amount of web traffic and continues to remind our audience of our brand and our website address even after they have left the site.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Windows Vista on EeePC - Done and working ... mostly.

OK. Given may (predictably) rapid dissolusion with XP on my EeePC - I love the way the OS is just so easy, hate the way that it's fat and uncontrollable (in my experience), I thought I'd just try Vista and see if it was actually possible and try and establish what does or doesn't work ... on my way to switching back to Linux.

I installed Windows Vista Business from a retail DVD ROM, via a USB DVD RAM Drive that has proven itself to be very useful.

The install itself takes about 2.5 hours and seems to go dead at a couple of points for period of up to about 20 minutes while the disk spins, but neither drive light comes on or the progress percentage increments. Stick with it. It will get there eventually.

Install to the 16GB partitioin and you'll end up with about 7 GB of OS installation on there.

Native screen rez is supported as are the hot keys etc. I needed to use the XP drivers for the LAN and ACPI hardware - go to device manager, choose the undignosed hardware and install the drivers by hand. This was sucessful and I was able to get the LAN and power sorted out quite quickly. I'll come to the WIFI in a moment.

A quick note about speed - not really any slower than XP. Overall the boot speed is about the same which given the fact that you end up installing onto a theoretically slower partition is quite impressive, and time to login-prompt is pretty well equal. After that, vista logs in faster but goes through starting all the services so you are looking at more-or-less similar time before you can actually get the start menu to respond or start an application.

OK. Wifi. Doesn't work. I've tried any native drivers (there don't seem to be any and the hardware isn't identified) an the XP drivers will install - if you diable the Wifi with the function key combination - but don't actually work or find any networks. I did some superficial research into this and there are other reports of people with similar experiences, and the only posted solutions are along the lines of 'use the XP drivers'.

Since the EeePC is a netbook, in my opinion it's mobility and therefore things like wireless are key to its usability. Without it, not so useful.

So all in all, impressed with the fact that Vista installs at all, pity that the lack of one driver is going to make it unusable and therefore rapidly replaced and quite suprised that speed wasn't a reason for uninstalling - this is an EeePC 900 don't forget ... thats a 900MHz celeron so processor power was always in short supply.