Jun 22

USA Today

Hey Richard, I arrived. I’m sure IM or mobile would have been a lot more efficient that this though!!!

Jun 21

Thames View

I had lunch today at the Oxo Tower, with the team from work, as a farewell lunch for a colleague who is heading for the US. Took a chance to take a series of views from the balcony then used the software that came with the camera for the first time to stitch the images together. A pretty clever process, it managed to get all the joins correct with minimal manual intervention. Here’s a small version, there’s a slightly larger version here.

Oxo_view.jpg

The food here was pretty good, I think well deserved of its reputation. However service was rather lacking. They got a couple of the meals wrong (which was quickly rectified) but in general it was very slow. Even though there were 10 of us, I would have thought they could have served the meal in less than the 2.5 hours it took – and even then the desert and the bill had to be chased. On a good point, the boxes they gave us for the deserts that were ‘taken away’ (for the people who had to leave for meetings) were very nice. On a bad point, it was annoying how they kept trying to top up the wine glasses all the time; it makes it impossible to track the volume drunk, which is not good when you do have to go back to work.

Jun 21

Formula 1

Following the farce that was the US Formula 1 at the weekend, where 7 teams withdrew after the warm-up lap over an argument about safety, tires and chicanes, various US *fans* have decided to take legal action against the Formula 1 organisation for the lack of a race. It’s only 2 days after the race – come on, US law firms, you’re slipping! I would have expected it a lot sooner 😉

Jun 21

Sunrise

The BBC Breakfast show is running a feature that is encouraging people to send photos of this morning’s summer solstice sunrise. I saw some of the photos on TV this morning; there’s a couple more on the website a tthe moment. So where are the rest? Apparently they’ll be up later today – I’m wondering what takes the time (see, I’m used to Flickr, moblogging and instant gratification!). The sunrise looked like it was pretty special this morning, so there should be some good pictures.

Jun 20

Remote Control

Here I was yesterday asking if it was possible to get a fingerprint control put on the TV remote control, and today I find a study reported in the papers that the remote is responsible for more that 1.5 million arguments a day. I read it in the Metro this morning and after a (ver brief) search, here’s an online verson. (sorry, I know it’s the Sun)

Jun 19

Shared duties

There’s an article in the Times about a study into the amount of housework men and women do. In comparison with 1961, the time a man has spent has increased from 83 minutes to 146 minutes, whereas women have reduced there time from 303 minutes to 277 minutes.

The article focuses on how men are becoming domestic gods. But look a thte figures in another way. In 1961, couples did 386 minutes ‘unpaid’; house work and in 2005 they do 423 minutes. In 44 years, domestic work has INCREASED by 37 minutes per couple, despite all the labour-saving devices that have been invented. How can that be? What are we doing more of? Now I could be reading it completely worng and there is something far more subtle here that is not reported in this story, probably something like an increase of singles in the study so you can’t just add the numbers.

An intersting aside in the story for me, however, is this:

A Spanish inventor has also devised a washing machine with a fingerprint sensor to ensure that the same person does not operate it twice to force couples to share laundy chores.

There you go, technology applied to ensure that someone can’t pressa button more than once in a row. Wonder if you could apply this to the TV remote?

Jun 19

U2 Concert

U2 at Twickenham. Great concert, very tight in timing, songs from all the albums. Fun, fun night.

u2.jpg

The evening started off quite early. I had hospitality tickets from one of the corporate partners, so we started off the day with a three-course meal and plenty of wine. Given the temperature yesterday, I was quite happy sitting in air-conditioning. So I missed the support band, except for their last song. I have no idea who they were, but they sounded good.

U2 arrived on stage on time, with a minimum of fuss. In previous tours they’ve arrived with various fanfares, but this time they walked straight onto stage without any music, before launching stright into the first song (I think it was Vertigo – my memory blurs the order). Songs from almost every album followed. My favourites were Running to Stand Still, I Still haven’t Found… and Vertigo, which also closed the concert.

We had seats up in the stands, pretty close to the front of the arena. Although close enough to see a lot of the band on the stage, the angle meant that we only had a partial view of the backdrop, which really got a work out as the light dimmed. so we missed some of the messages. During the first half, there were little lights used – it was pointless as it was still bright. However, darkness came and the lights were used to wonderful effect.

I think I worked out how to get tickets in the ‘enclosure’ in front of the stage. You obviously have to pass a fitness test. The peope here spent most of the concert jumping up and down waving their arms, for the full 2 hours.

The concert finished right on time (Twickenham curfew); unlike previous concerts I’ve been to, it contained very little of Bono going off on one. The one appeal was kept short, relating to Africa, the G8 summit and the Make Poverty History Campaign. Interestingly, they encouraged people to make their voice known by texting a message. I wonder in how many countries they are using this device, where it will work. Almost everyone there had mobiles, so guess the texts peak every concert night at about that time.

After the concert it was back to the suite for a few more drinks before braving the roads to get home. Shuttle buses were running back to the nrearest station (Richmond). No taxis there, so I ended up walking the last few miles.

There are pictures here. I also took a couple of short videos – which will go up soon.

Jun 18

Me, myself and I

Doing some ego-surfing, I see that I’m now number 2 in google rankings for my name. But there are a lot of people out there with the same name. I first came across one of the name-a-alikes when I was about 11 and visiting the hospital; my mother discovered that the wrong notes had been given and that there was another Rachel who had been born on the same day in the same hospital. So, what do all these other Rachels do.

1. An Associate Professor of Electronic Art at California State University.

2. A reporter for BBC News in Washington

3. An Administrator at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

4. An actor with the Archway Theatre

5. A street in Corringham, Thurrock (not sure who that is named for)

6. A musician with an English Dance group.

7. A case study for Giving up Smoking

8. A teacher of nursing in New Zealand.

9. The editor of Premiere Magazine

10. Miss Anaheim, 2005. Looking for a career in media and advertising.

In that google driven selection, people with my name appear to have a preference for art and mdeia related roles.

Jun 18

Work and Travel

The waiting finally appears to have come to an end, as the consultation period for the re-organisation at work has finally been completed, a month after the original due date. This means we can now start getting some clarity about whether we have jobs, what sort of job it will be and any other changes. Meanwhile, our teams internal customers have already been through the process, sorted themselves out and are busy gearing up for the next financial year. Which means we’ve been very, very busy – it may be interesting if we end up not doing these jobs.

So next week I’m off to the US for a bit of work; I’ll be staying an extra day in New York to get a bit of shopping and sightseeing done.

Jun 17

Mini Avatars

Browsing feeds today, I see that Microsoft are working to develop their own version of BitTorrent, with a codename of Avalanche. This appears to be currently a research project, with no immediate plans to commercialise it.

The other interesting story was internet ‘Teleporting’, where cameras would capture the motion at one end of the connections and material at the other end would arrange itself to provide a 3D likeness of the object, allowing a better representaiton of talking to the other person.

So I was wondering what happens if you put these two together? Will you get lots of little 3D models that will grow bigger. Will each one only get a little bit of the message and they have to all be combined.

It’s late. It’ Friday. It’s been a hard week and my brain is acting funny. Roll on the weekend.

Jun 17

A very English response

Via numerous newspapers comes this tale of revenge, in a very English, understated way. A city lawyer demanded £4 in payment after one of the office secretarys dropped ketchup on his trousers; he left notes on her desk as well as emailing her. The secretary responded to his email – copying the office as she went, many of whom then forwarded the mail on, in appreciation of her irony-laiden putdowns;

“I must apologise for not getting back to you straight away but due to my mother’s sudden illness, death and funeral I have had more pressing issues than your £4.” She went on: “I apologise for accidentally getting a few splashes of ketchup on your trousers. Obviously your financial need as a senior associate is greater than mine as a mere secretary.”

Meanwhile, English Heritage workers are threatening to hold a walk-out on 21 June, apparently deliberatly targeting the summer solstice, or so the new stories read. So will that make it harder or easier to get into Stonehenge?

Jun 16

Where have you been?

There’s a letter on the BBC Ceefax service today from Jim complaining (the contibutors often complain – nostalgia always makes things look better) about how Doctor Who is being spoiled because we know what’s going to happen, that we’re being told things about the next series. So where has Jim been? Has he failed to notice the media trend of revealing everything they are given or cam find in order to drive ratings (their own or the TV programmes). He states that this never used to happen. That’s because the last DW series was BW – Before Web. Although the information could have been obtained before there were few opportunities to spread it. And without the information being easily available, the appetite for it can not be widely generated. The Web feeds the media feeds the desire, all in an endless feedback loop which means that you now have to work hard not to see spoilers. So Jim, you’re right. It was not like this before, but do the other benefits of information availability outweigh the occasaional spoiling of a TV programme?

Jun 15

Phones and daleks

They’re not connected, I just didn’t want to do 2 posts 😉

The first is about BT’s new phone offer, Fusion, which works as a landline via broadband and a mobile via Vodaphone (why not O2, i thought that used to be BT?). I can see the attraction of this, given that I tend not to use the landline at home at all and I could not even tell you my home phone number (I could tell you my SkypeIn number though, but I put some thought into choosing that). The BBC have a fairly objective report, whilst the Register is slightly more tongue in cheek, calling it the BT Confusion service.

In other news, thieves have returned a stolen Dalek, after declaring it too hot to handle. So they left it on the top of Galstonbury Tor. That’s right, they left it on top of a big hill in the middle of the countryside. And then it had to be stretchered off. Apparently ‘kids’ are being being blamed. Of course these would be kids who lug a great big Dalek up a very steep hill and would have absolutely nothing to do with the Doctor Who conference that is being organised.

Jun 15

Travel thoughts

I walk through Waterloo Station nearly every weekday. In the 3-4 minutes I’m in the concourse, the announcer never shuts up, running through all the departures in an endless repetitive loop. Obviously, at some point, there was one massive recording session to get everything taped (digitised, recorded..) Do you think they have to go and find the guy again everytime a new train journey is added? But most important – do you think he gets residuals for everytime the recording is used???

The other thing that struck me was the status board at the entrance to the Jubilee line. It lists all the tube lines and has a number of sticky signs that can be added to the board to give the travel status of each line – saves the staff writing things out. Occasionally, everything is running OK on every single line, but they do not have enough signs to tell us this. The staff either have to space out the little signs evenly across the board or write the additonal ‘good service’ reports on their. So why is this important? It’s telling me that this is an organisation that expects to fail, when its staff will not produce enough status markers to say everything is OK.

Jun 15

Talk Radio

Via Nicole, I see that the sound recordings of many of the Reboot talks are now available in the Internet Archive. Once I’ve downloaded them, I need to work out if it is worth turning the presentation files into jpgs (to put on my Zen PMC) so that I can listen and watch the presentation at the same time whilst on the move.

Jun 14

Best laid plans…

This evening I had plans. I was going to go home earlyish, write up some notes, do some washing..basically not be out, especially after last night when I went to the Marketing Society awards and had a late, good, fun evening. But no, it was not to be. Instead I met up with a couple of people and we discussed marketing, small being the new big and the challenge of doing anything small in a corporate world – they (beig the marketing teams) all want somethng big and the big agencies do nothing but encourage it whilst the small, nimble ones try and get in. Over dinner, the talk carried on in the same vein, but most importantly covering the absolute need to be able to manage all of this space whilst being able to sit in the corner, cackling manically whilst stroking a white cat.

Jun 14

I’ve got nothing to wear

I know I sometimes look at the piles of clothes I have and think i have nothing to wear, but this escapade is an interesting decision. The interviewer at a job interview left the room and came back naked – with nothing but his clipboard to cover his modesty. His excuse – he wanted to add some excitement to the proceedings. Of course, with this being cold Scotland there was probably little to see. Via the BBC

Jun 14

Positive Action

In the UK, the Education Secretary Ruth Kelly is launching a scheme to get more women working in technology and comouting. The embarassingly named Computer Club for Girls (the name is probably a barrier in itself) is being rolled out across England to give “girls the chance to take part in a wide range of computer-based activities, from designing their own celebrity posters to creating a fashion show or mixing music”. SO hopefully in 5-10 years time we’ll have more women that can be asked to speak at the various conferences. From the BBC