Jul 25


A few weeks ago, Sam, a Chinese Crested dog, won a competition to find the world’s ugliest dog for the third time (does he get to keep the trophy in perpetuity). In line with today’s online meida world, the dog has a blog. And in an experiment (for meme epidemiology I guess) Doc Searls is asking for links. SO here you go. I still think the dog just got photographed in a bad light.

Jul 24

OpenTech 2005

Spent yesterday at OpenTech 2005. A mixed day, some pretty good stuff, other stuff that was not so much fun. Things I found interesting:

  • OpenStreetMap. Mapping the UK using Satellite photos and GPS points. To provide an open source map in a country where most of the maps are Crown Copyright
  • Ewan Spence‘s Media Hacking Introduction. Get 5 people all with iPod Shuffles. Take the Shuffle, put them in a box, shake them up and see what you get back – hardware hacking. In this case no-one had identified their Shuffle, including the poor guy who’d put his PGP Private key on it :-o. It all eventually got sorted I think.
  • Launch of backstage.bbc.co.uk as it came out of beta. Take BBC content feeds (news, weather, TV programms etc) and remix them as you see fit. This is slowly becoming available for programme content as well as information. My favourite – the difference spotter for BBC News page, from Mathew Somerville.
  • Jeremy Zawodny‘s overview of an Open Future.
  • The fast runthrough of spacehijackers modus operandi, (a seemingly last minute replacement). Their next project – tracking Charles Clarke‘s every movement.
Jul 24

MSN Virtual Earth

Microsoft appear to be launching their new mapping application on Monday, but it looks like Virtual Earth is accessible, although performance is likely to be patchy until the official launch. There was initially speculation from Niall that it would be an RSS Search that was going to be launched – maybe that is coming as well?

FOr me, there was an interesting behavioural change from the start – I immediately went to grab the map to move it around. No more will I look for the little arrows to move the view – it’s grabbing only. Being English, I immediately wanted to move the map to the UK. Now, with Microsoft being a US company, I can understand why they would focus on geting the US mapping data in first, with only minimal coverage of the rest of the world. That’s what Google did, and MS are following behind here. But I would have hoped they would have something slightly better than this:

MSNVirtual Eeath UK View

I know a there’s a sterotypical American who knows nothing outside of their own borders, but missing off London is a lttle worrying.

Once zoomed in enought to see London, it still seems to live in a vacuum.

UK View with London

Does Microsoft know something I should know?

Update: I see it’s hidden again until the official beta launch.

Jul 23

Comment Feeds

At a Pre-OpenTech Dinner last night, I was listening in to a conversation between Jeremy and Peter about RSS/feed applications. And I realised what I’m missing in my aggregator – the ability to mark posts of interest so that I get updated on the comments. This needs to be accompnaied by a clean-up process, which lets me look at specific feed types such a those with comments and unsubscribe easily when the comments stop.

Jul 22

Modern Etiquette

THere’s a website that is run locally, for local news. It has a forum section for quesitons and debate. One of the latest questions:

“What exactly does one do on the Tube when one spots a nervous-looking fellow passenger of Middle Eastern or Pakistani appearance with a rucksack?”

And then suggest a few course of actions such as leaving or pulling the comms cord. One further suggestion is to politely ask them if they mind being asked what’s in their rucksack.

The perils of modern manners.

Jul 21

What not to do

1. Call a clothing line TwattyGirl. At least if you you want anything but hassle in the UK. The Press Release just gives us gem after PR gem, the crowning glory being ‘twattyisms’. Only in the US would this be done srriously; here, we’d add a lot more irony. Via PSFK

2. Yell out the main spoiler from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to a bunch of kids queuing in line to buy the book and hour after it has been released. But over here, someone does just that. Don’t watch if you don’t want spoilers. But if you know the end, watch it. It is funny…Via Observer Blog.

Jul 21

Listening In

From the Flickr Blog, one of the reasons they get such a following (apart from being a wonderful product). An apology for services not rendered and a call for feedback, to help drive the next stages. Being prepared to listen and answer to customers, to be aware of when things go wrong and then recognise them, recognise the customers who are feeling the pain is what so many companies are missing. Formal research works – in certain situations; continously listening and responding to the people who use your product is far better. And having the conversation openly is far better than only providing ‘customer care’ in the form of helplines or email contacts.

Jul 21

Getting Home

I was out of the office all day visiting an agency and following the news online. Got home by cab, better than trying to work with the tube system.

As with 2 weeks ago, wikinews was a great summary page, especially when BBC/Sky etc were down. The funiest quote:

“The man who was holding the rucksack looked extremely dismayed.”

Well he would, wouldn’t he. Anyway, the quote seems to have gone from most news websites. (still on the wiki history). Everything is slowly getting back to normal again, no day off tomorrow.

Jul 21

Here we go again

Not even at my work so have no bar this time… Info here

London Metropolitan Police commissioner Ian Blair has confirmed that there have been three small explosions at Warren Street, Oval and Shepherd’s Bush tube stations. Incidents have also been reported on a bus in Hackney and at Waterloo Station. The Northern line, the Victoria Line, the Hammersmith and City Line, the Bakerloo Line and the Waterloo and City Line have been suspended. Whitehall had been sealed off, but reopened shortly after.

Police are currently advising against unnecessary travel in London, asking Londoners to keep travel to a minimum and avoid the public transport system.


Jul 21

Further tracking

Blogpulse have launched a tracking tool, allowing analytical data to be pulled out about specific blogs; there are plenty of links around to it this morning. It would be better if it wasn’t broken with this random error mesage: HTTP ERROR: 500 java%2Enet%2EConnectException%3A+Connection+refused

Jul 21

Growth Curve

The Ask Jeeves blog has some analysis of its Bloglines Service. There are a lot of blogs out there, being created left, right and centre, but 1,121,655 of them have atttracted at least one person to subscribe to a feed via Bloglines. They range from blogs with just one person subscibed through the dominance of Slashdot, with 37,400.

Jul 20


Via Metro, the ultimate iPod Accesory, the Audi-Oh.. It plugs into the iPod and translates the musical rythms into a variable vibration pattern; what you do with it is up to you, but the website subtly explains the reasons for it. It appears to have been around for nearly a year, must have missed it in John Lewis.

Jul 19

Harry Potter

I picked up the new Harry Potter over the weekend (along with the rest of the 3% of the population who also bought it). It’s nice to see that free enterprise is alive and well, as copies flooded Mumbai on Monday. However, they were not as fast as the digital copies; the book was scanned, OCD’d, proofread and online in less than 24hours.

The book was as expected, no great literary effort, could have done with a good editor but still a great read. I think JK Rowling has been using a tablet PC. The Spellchecer quills, which you use by tapping them on the scroll sound remarkably like the text recognisiton software/pen combination.

Jul 19

Subscriptions and Readers

Nice to see that Bloglines is finally back. It was out of action all day, first of all with no feeds present at all and then feeds with no upaftes. It;s slowly coming back to normal but not all there yet. According to their news page, a cache server went down.

Jul 19


Got a busy few days ahead. Thursday, there’s a couple of farewell parties at work – so free food and drink. Friday, I’m here, at this week’s geek dinner and Saturday I’m at Opentech in Hammersmith. Sunday – I sleep.

Meanwhile, just seen why they delayed the CSI season closer last week on Channel5; yuck, splatter everywhere.

Jul 19

Fishy Business

The BBC has a lovely article about a piece of digital art that can be found at Tingrith Fisheries. Fish in the lake at the fishery are tracked hydrophonically and their movements translated into a soundscape and an animated representation of the fishes’ movements. How is this done? The fish are “slit open and miniature bio-acoustic tags are inserted into their bodies. The fish are then stitched up, woken up and returned to the lake where they emit a tiny acoustic signal every two seconds. ” Lovely. Just the type of detail you want to know.

The article is also notable for me in that its the first one I’ve seen where there is the option to download an audiofile and subscibe to the RSS feed for the podcasts, as part of the BBC Download Trial