Nov 15

Typepad offers compensation

In recompence for recent poor service on Typepad, Six Apart are offering their paying customers a choice of packages. In this case, it is up to the user to decide what level of compensation they think they deserve. Straightforward, logical economic thinking should mean that everyone should choose the largest amount of free stuff withthe 45 day offer. However, the one thing that people are not is straightforward and logical and SA are gambling on this. They are hoping that the spread of choices made does not cause them issues and make them lose too much money – lost money means lost opportunities to improve the service. Hopefully, they’ll be proved right and people will stop and think realistically about the service impact they had. And the service issue gets a more positive hue in peoples minds because of the offer.


Nov 13

Rugby Internationals

Yesterday, I took a trip to Twickenham to watch England beat Australia at rugby. Beforehand, I’d been at a lunch where Jeff Probyn had given a speech – un-reformed, targeting the many males in the audience ;o) – in which he had predicted a win by 10 points, with the front row playing the key part. His prediction was uncannily accurate as we won by 26-16. A good day out, crisp, sunny, perfect for watching rugby.

Amongst all the sponsorship, I was surprised to see that Microsoft had got involved, sponsoring a big screen which regularly displayed the latest Microsoft slogan.

Microsoft and Rugby

Nov 11

Lest We Forget

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, The Great War, the war to end all wars, officially came to an end. Since then, the time has been used to remember the fallen, those who gave their lives for their country, with no though of politics. Every year, the Royal British Legion run the Poppy appeal to raise funds to support soldiers and their dependents who have been affected by war.

Take a moment and remember them


They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

For the Fallen, Laurence Binyon

Nov 10

The Language of Blogs

Via Data Mining, Scott Nowson has published his thesis “The Language of Weblogs: A study of genre and individual differences.” I’ll admit to not having read it all yet (it’s 300 pages) but unsurprisingly:

The study concludes by confirming that both gender and personality are projected by language in blogs; furthermore, approaches which take the context of language features into account can be used to detect more variation than those which do not.

It’s unsurprising as one of the defining characteristic of a blog has tended to be that personality comes through, which usually reflects gender. In fact, I’d say the ability to allow yourself to project a personality is a pre-reuqisite for a good blogger, as illustrated in‘s questioning of the major blog networks about what they are looking for. The common elements that came through were passion, personality and great writing skills (plus staying power – you have to be able to do this consistently).

Without personality, without putting some of yourself out there, it’s just neutral reporting, and there are plenty of ‘official’ sources for that.

Update: Scott commented about the meaning of personality: “By personality I am referring specifically to the traits of the five factor model (Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness and Conscientiousness), which I’ve shown can be projected to varying degrees by language.” His report which I’ve started reading, drives down into the components of personality that are measurable opposed to my assessment of surface personality which is the sum of them. So whilst I can make a snap judgement based on my perceptions, he’s used tools to delve into the underlying traits that are projected throught he language.

Nov 10

Sony DRM/Rootkit issues escalate

Sony are currently facing legal action over their DRM on CDs, the implementation of which acts as a rootkit. Cases are being bought in California, New York and Italy. Meanwhile, the first trojan virus that utilises the cloaking in the applications has been spotted.

So Sony got caught poorly implementing protection that they believe will save revenues, their response was quick but badly thought out and now they are facing legal action and their tools are being misused. Wonder how many sales they’ll lose from this?

Nov 10

PC Woes

I thought there was a problem, but my PC desktop has given up the ghost before I got to fix it. It’s decided that it no longer has an MBR and just sits there sulking, asking to find something to give it a kick…time to find someone to fix the thing.

Nov 10

Nerobucks – what’s out favourite coffee?

Occasionally, it becomes necessary to go outside of work and get coffee from one of the many local coffee shops, forgoing the inhouse brand whose only real attraction is that is free and ocntains caffeine. The choice is usually Starbucks. Yesterday, we tried something different and ran a taste test between Starbucks and Cafe Nero. So 2 pruchasers went out and returned with samples of standard skinny latte which was poured out into plain cups, ready for hte blind tasting.

The results were mixed; 2 out of the 5 preferred the Starbucks, which for the rest of us was too milky. The Cafe Nero one had a more coffee taste, although the criticism was that as a latte it should have a more milky taste. However, we all agreed that the best tase was from when we mixed the two samples together to finish them – so we’re calling for a new drink. Bring on the Nerobucks..

Nov 09


Great to see that the BBC will be trialling HDTV. It will be available in certain satellite and cable areas, plsu terrestrial in London. The intention is to have all free to air digital programmes as HDTV by 2010. This could be my trigger to buy a new set at some time.

Nov 09

Tipping Cows

Boing Boing highlight a academic study that looked at the physics of tipping cows, ie making a cow fall over. The study shows that the average cow would need 5 people to tip it over, although 2 people may be able to manage it if they surprised it!

Which brings me on to Richard Langford, a friend who complains I don’t mention him enough in this blog; I don’t tend to name people without an online presence, but he requested it (and his ego feed should pick this up). Richard has, so he tells us, tipped over a cow. In this case the cow was very surprised, it was, apparently, asleep at the time. So it’s definitely possible and not just an urban legend.

And here’s a picture of him with his new best friend Clare, the Powerbook he’s been waiting for ages for that finally got delivered. He’s trying to convert the team into buying our own, but so far he’s not had too much luck. Hopefully Richard now feels that he’s been mentioned enough for this month ;o)


Posted in fun
Nov 09

What do I do again?

Tom at TrueTalk Blog writes about explaining what he does, how it is not a simple as delivering mail, but is

about helping leaders create an environment that make people happy, in which they have fun, in which there is a deep sense of mutual respect and regard (love). Oh, and are wildly productive because of that environment.

That’s the summary of a long description, as he tries to explain his job. It struck home because of recent conversation with my family about some career changes I’m planning. When there’s no common experience, coming to a common understanding is pure hard work. Despite the fact that my current role is one of the few where I can point to something that I’ve been involved in (like the description of what I need to do to get there is long and involved. So sometimes, it’s like being back at school when talking to the family on the phone – ‘What did you do at work this week?’…’Stuff’ But maybe that’s because the usual call is on a Saturday morning before I have woken up!

But I’m going to follow Tom’s actions and jsut get something written up – and then practice heavily on the family. So that when I’m asked by people in a business setting what it is I do, it’s all there – the clear, simple, descriptive version.

Nov 09

Flash Holding pages

A Brazilian agency(?) Academia de Filmes have produced a website holding page that is a little more interesting than the usual…some thought has gone into managing the waiting period for the file to download (only visible if you have a slower speed) and it does act as an introduction into their capabilities. Via ThreeMinds

Nov 08

Socialising – Ballet and Dinner

On Friday I got an opportunity to go to Covent Garden to see the ballet Manon with Ricahrd who had some free tickets. An unexpected cultural treat, made better with tickets right near the front. Which meant I was close enough to come to the conclusion that the tights of the male dancers must have built in suspension, because that amount of lift and separate of the glutimous maximus cannot be natural 😉

No less cultural was dinner with Adriana last night, where we spent a few hours discussing lots of things as well as trying out Stormhoek‘s Shiraz, which turned out to be very drinkable.


And there’s a photo for Ian

Nov 08

Unlocking the Geek

Following the scifi channel’s survey, they have taken out a 4 page ‘advertising feature’ in this morning’s Metro. Their focus is on being a TV geek, clothes geek or travel geek in 1985, 2005 and 2025 (with Lost finally ending and a new TV reality show ‘Lost in Space’ where 10 contestants are set adrift in a space probe with limited oxygen!). Tech geeks, who called be called the more traditional definition, are given a scant 3 lines.

They offer words of wisdom for all who want to climb the ‘golden staircase to geekdon’:

  • Realise your passion – find a topic and know it inside out
  • Spend time and money on it – aquire knoweldge and stuff (lots of stuff)
  • Talk about it – let everyone know and bamboozle your friends.

So, what are you waiting for?

Nov 07

Measurement and Links

Via Problogger, I see that has started indexing blogs.

Topix Tags Blogs
Today we added 15,000 top weblogs to the crawling/tagging engine. Blog posts are being categorized into our 30,000 local feeds as well as our 300,000 subject feeds. Our search results now include blog results, and posts should show up on our site and search index within 1-3 minutes of being crawled.

And then, looking at my MeasureMap statistics (which is working wonderfully for me) I find that my top link into my site is from Topix – so my style of blogging fits into their Newsrank algorithms. So what was the wonderful, inciteful post that was driving this? A brief quote about Keanu in leather from the Telegraph…

Nov 07

eMarketer republishes survey

eMarketer published details about the Edelman/Technorati survey that was published around a month ago. Surprisingly, given how long it was in the genesis, there is little, if any additonal commentary with the report; the numbers have been recut slightly to fall into the publication guide. However, it does provide you a link at the bottom for their indepth report – so, looking for analysis, i follow, to find it takes me to a report that would cost me $695 to read – for 15 pages and 27 charts. Maybe some other time.

Nov 07

Mechanical Turk

Along with many other people, I’ve been playing around with Amazon’s new tool Mechanical Turk, a mechanism to apply distributed human intelligence to mundane tasks that are still too complicated for comouters. I’m guessing I’m one of many given the poor availability of the service over the weekend – it was ‘unavailable’ for the majority of time I was trying it, stating it was too busy. Amazon seriously underestimated the desire for people to earn ‘free’ money.

However, I have managed to earn the grand total of 9c, which I could now apply as a discount to one of my next purchases (although I’m more likely to just leave it there). I’m waiting for another 60c to come through, waiting for someone to approve my choices. Which does beg the questions – I’m paid “… when your answer is approved by the person that listed the HIT”. So, if someone has to go in and approve all the HITs (‘Human Intelligence Task’ don’t you know), why don’t they just do the job in the first place? How much time is saved through the two stage process than just getting a single team to do it? Although I’m guessing this process may be better for the person’s snaity 😉 To do any serious earning on this, it will take a lot of tiome – and a lot more power on the Amazon side to keep the service up and running.

Nov 07

It’s all on the internet

‘It’s all on the internet’ – my comment to my brother-in-law who was trying to fix a driver problem, get firewall/antivirus applications (at last!) and find a CD ripper. At this point my frustration came through as I dictated various names for him to go and find. It looks like they are going to be buying a new PC anyway – but are going to wait until I’m visiting before they make the purchase.

Apart from the odd support call from family I had a very quiet blogging weekend – I have a whole load of stuff I was goign to post, but ended up playing Resident Evil 4 instead. No idea why, I’m unbelievably poor at these games, but it was ‘fun’ despite the huge number of times I got killed in the game. The walkthroughs are always essential for me to get anywhere, but why can’t they make a really easy version without any of these ‘boss’ attacks. One weekend and I’m less than a quarter of the way through it – a long way to go.

Nov 03

Sony DRM and Rootkits

Over on Sysinternals, Mark Russinovich has done a superb piece of detective work into a rootkit that he had found on his machine. After a long investigation, he found that it had originated from a Sony music CD; there appeared to be no warning of this installation, nor anyway to remove the software. Using standard removal techniques, it ended up crippling the CD player on the PC.

Within the comments, there are listings of various computer misuse legislation that Sony may have broken by surrepticiously installing such sotware. There is also further detective work, as the software is discovered to make calls to Sony with identification.

Yesterday, Sony provided removal software: “This Service Pack removes the cloaking technology component that has been recently discussed in a number of articles published regarding the XCP Technology used on SONY BMG content protected CDs. This component is not malicious and does not compromise security. However to alleviate any concerns that users may have about the program posing potential security vulnerabilities, this update has been released to enable users to remove this component from their computers.”

At least they were listening and put up a fix…pity they had to installed the equivalent of malware in the first place though.

Update: the Sony software is only decloakimg software so the files are no longer hodden. It does not remove the rootkit.