Mar 30

Downloadable video

The BBC are going to commission a second series of Doctor Who after just one episode being shown on TV. Reading about the leaking of the first episode onto the internet, they commented:

The BBC has trialled a download service for some of its TV content, but there is no indication yet as to when the Interactive Media Player will launch.

Other broadcasters are probably hurrying their own plans because until they launch, there will be plenty of individuals willing to fill that hole.

And today, I see that Microsoft have started a service for commercially downloadable video content. Should I sign up – not at the moment, far too US based. – I think i need a How To guide to US football, baseball and basketball before I can submit myself to Fox News

Mar 30

Childhood remembered…

…well, sort of. Glitter and Twang has posted a list of covers from The Sound of Music, all done in a very modern way. It’s like Coverville – but in a weird Twilight world.

The saddest thing – the Jesuit saying about ‘give me a child until they’re 7 and they’ll be mine’ is correct. Repeated exposure to the film on TV every Christmas combined with grandparents who had the album with the lyrics meant I knew every word.

Mar 30

Hoax or not?

Is this a hoax, and April Fools stunt or something else.

A story over at Boing Boing about a IM-ing student requesting someone else to write their essay – and their oh-so-nearly saviour blogging the whole exchange and exposing her on the web and to her school could be real or could be a hoax – however, if an April Fool’s day funny, they’re definitely living in a completly different timezone ot the rest of us…it’s a least another 2 days until April 1 where I am.

Update: as Impied said, Boing Boing were calling it a hoax, but the latest response was it was not, but it was a blogging incident that grew far more than the author intended. But confusion still reigns. The latest is here.

Mar 26

The Application of CSS

Just got my hair cut, so it’s back being tidy. Got the usual shock when it came to pay – £50 (although that’s far cheaper than some i’ve had). For about 15 minutes of attention. £200/hour. I’m in the wrong job. The whole experience did involve 5 people though. One to take may name a the desk and collect my money at the end; another to take my bags and coat and get me a cup of tea. One to wash my hair and set me up with towels/apron etc. One of give me a hand massage (Ok, this is not the normal treatment at a hairdresser, but obviously Shiatsu scalp massage is now old hat) and one more to actually cut my hair. Lots of people, lots of money. Men’s haircuts are generally cheaper, but this this salon still charged £40 for them. So what do they get different? Definitely discrimination to me!

Between the washing and the cutting, I got handed a cup of tea and some magazines. Never worked out why there is an assumption that going to a hairdresser means you only like one type of magazine – the women’s glossies and gossips. I did get a choice – but it was between Hello and Eve.

Found one good article in Eve that did stike a chord with me – a description of CSS. In the context of women’s magazine’s, however it means something completely different – Competitive Stress Syndrome. Googling this leads to lots of pages about overtraining in athletes and work related stress in men, but that’s not the story here.

So what does it mean? You’re sitting in the bar, or coffee shop, or anywhere and start talking about how your life is going and how hard it is and how bad you feel, and you colleague/friend/relative interrupts with their moans, about how hard their life is, how hard they are have to work. Then the third woman jumps in. Everyone trying to share the fact they are really stressed with their life – btw…the winner will always be the one with children!

The article went on to say that to really get the most of such a session, you have to treat it like a game of tennis – take it in turns. Share and then stay quiet for the next person. Let it all come out. Really it’s a bonding session; the point not to offer improvement suggestions or provide solutions, but to have a bonding moment, mutually agreeing about how hard life is today. And you leave the session understanding that of course you have highest stress levels – but you’re not alone :-). CSS – the new topic of conversation.

Mar 26

Large orders

Captured this image in the bar at work the other day; the staff there must love it when large orders are all the same, instead of doing 11 individual cocktails.

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Mar 25

Stating the Obvious

Quote for the day: “the bible is essentially a book of writing” from a bishop on Breakfast TV (should have got his name but I was half asleep). I really must write and thank him for that revelation..I’d never quite realised it!

Mar 23

The Old and the New

Old communication channels are embracing the new. There was a time in many countries where the church was the centre of a person’s community. This appears to be less so now, but religion is managing to use newer technology to get the message across. Godcasts are becoming one of the more popular flavours of podcasts; religious themes on your media player of choice, according to this story on the bookofjoe.

In another use, Adrants are reporting that ministries are using comparisons with Halo2 to spread the word, as the storyline is apparently like a Bible story.

And to bring us right up to date, Amazon are selling a 30TB Tablet – or they were for a wee while until the typo got noticed. Over on Seth’s blog he thought that it would have disappeared by now, but it seems the PTB at Amazon have left the entry up there, so you can read some of the very funny reviews that got put up

Mar 23

Reading

I’ve finished the first book on my list (The Art of Intrusion). Some interesting stories, and I can relate to what happens (or not) at work. The next one is A Devil’s Chaplain, evolutionary essays by Richard Dawkins.

And here’s this quote, in an essay about the general evolutionary process:

” Stand tall, Bipedal Ape. The shark may outswim you, the cheetah outrun you, the swift outfly tou, the capuchin outclimb you, the elephant outpower you, the redwood outlast you. But you have the biggest gifts of all: the gift of understanding the ruthlessly cruel process that gave us all existence; the gift of revulsion agaisnt its implications; the gift of foresight – something utterly foreign to the blundering short-term ways of natural selection – and the gift of internaliszing the very cosmos.”

And what do we do with this gift of ours? For many people, use it to drive the very process of selection. Look at the internet, rife with money-making spam and pornography. Power, sex; all drivers to spreading the genes to the next generation – although the spread on the internet could backfire as the users of such info could spend too much time actually internalising the process instead of getting out there and putting it into practice ;-)

And to experience revulsion against the implications? That can lead to things like this story in the New York Times (you need to register). It relates how a number of IMAX theatres in the US (mainly the South) are refusing to play films/documentaries that mention evolution for fears it will lead to protests or charges of blasphemy. The wonders of a brain and mind that can take a look at itself.

Mar 22

Weddings and Websites

I think I may have given myself some work. For some reason, weddings seem to be on the cards with the team at work.

One of the team is emigrating to the US and getting married later in the year. He’d pulled together a website to let the disparate family members know what is happening. Two of the girls are also getting married in a few months – so they wanted their own sites, as long as they were better and prettier than the first one! For some reason I volunteered to develop and host (consider it a wedding present!). So two sites to keep up to date with the changing wedding plans

Mar 22

Stereotyping

Waiting for the train home at Waterloo today, I wandered into WHSmith. On the one side of the store were all the ‘female’ interest magazines, with the glossies, the home decorating, pets and the hobbies section. On the other side – male magazines, music, PCs, sports and gadgets.

But they got one thing wrong – the chocolate was on the supposed male side. They’ve still got a lot to learn!

Mar 22

Getting things together

Today, I finally got some news about some stuff that has been going on at work for a while.

Blogging Policy

When I started this, I asked at work about their policy for blogging. The answer – ‘what’s a blog?’ After explaining, the next reaction was no. No employee should blog at all, it wopuld only cause problems if they mentioned anything that could possibly cause an issue. So a few months of gentle explanations, discussion and asking again and again, I’ve finally got confirmation that blogging is now recognised in both the HR and the security policies of the company, which are being re-issued next month. So I can blog (but not during company time), I can discuss incidents at work that affect me (avoiding libel etc) but I cannot refer directly to the company, its commercial direction or anything that may relate to strategy. Guess that’s fair – and far better than where I started.

Test Computers

The next good news was confirmation that I can finally get some test computers. We have a good security policy, plus standard PC builds (reducing IS support costs) But I work with websites which means I need to test on multiple browsers and without firewalls/proxies causing connection issues or blocking content. So the solution is to provide us a PCs that will not connect to the company network at all, but access direct. I can do what I need to, but there’s no support available at all for them

This takes me back a little. Ten years ago I convinced my then manager to let me have access to the internet from work. Given the ‘experimental’ nature of this at the time I had to have a non-networked PC, in a locked room with controlled access. Of course, the IS team wanted to charge me 3 days work to load the software and train me on it! Once that was sorted, I did actually manage to use the access to get me valuable research :-)

Mar 20

Flickr bought by Yahoo

I’ve only been using the service for a few months and only just beginning to explore what it can offer, but can share both the feeling of congratulations offered plus the worries expressed in the comments on the FlickrBlog. I’ve used Yahoo photos as well as their other services and whilst good, I don’t find they have the straightforwardness of Flickr. So here’s hoping, as Jeremy Zawodny says, that this is the start of something good, an acceleration of the potential that is there.

I upgraded to Pro version last week so that I can increase the numbers of photos and the sets I have; I’m about to start loading up some of the high resolution images for sharing. Using such a great service was encouraging me to take more photos, and I’ve taken to carrying the camera everywhere. More images to come inthe future ;-)

Mar 20

Photo trips

My parents and one of my sisters visited yesterday and we went into Richmond for lunch. A bit of food, a bit of shopping and a walk around on a wonderul warm spring day. We could not walk far as Jayne has jsut had an operation on her knee, but it was nice on the Green, with lots of people taking time out ot play and just lie in the sun.

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I took a lot of photos yesterday and then today I decided to take the tube and go into town for a walk. Starting off from Embankemnt, went across Hungerford Bridge, back across Westminster Bridge then down Birdcage Walk and through St James’ Park to Buckingham Palace before catching the tube back. I took a lot of photos and they are all on Flickr; pity the day was not as good as yesterday – grey skies are not as good as blue…

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Mar 18

Budget

Hey, it looks like I’m going to be around £13 a month better off under the budget, according to this handy calculator. Now, what can I do with that? It’ll pay for a new album with a bit of change, a bottle of wine (or 2, or 3…) or a takeaway. Choices, choices!

Mar 18

Heists

I agree with the Londonist about the boring reality behind the BBC headlines yesterday for the prevention of a multimillion pound bank robbery. I was imagining prevention being closer to the police’s actions around the Millenium Dome diamond robbery, with them lying in wait to pounce, but no, this was cybercrime – behind the scenes.

But I’m glad (!) to see the idea of a grand plan is not being lost, with a gang in Scotland driving around and taking out 6 cash machines in one night