Jan 11

New Phone

I’ve bought me a new phone. Apart from a short lived pay-as-you-go phone in Amsterdam back in 2000, this is the first phone I have actually gone and chosen. Up until now, work has provided a phone and paying the bills. As I’m not going to have that in the future, it was time to go and get my own.

But it’s a shock to the system. I’ve being using a Nokia 6310i; as a phone it works great. But that’s all I ever really used it for, a triband phone plus texts. I stretched the use of it to include alarm clock and stopwatch but the WAP/GPRS etc were never enabled on it.

Now I have an 6680 Smartphone. It’s got colour! ( a small thing I know, but having had grey tone for so many years, the initial impact is the colour screen). But I have web, email, calendar, camera, video phoning, and lots more stuff I’ve not touched yet. I’ve even got TV. Buying through Vodaphone gives me their Live service and this month they have free Sky Mobile TV. Despite having entertainment channels, the programming is not the same as their satellite equivalents (I guess this is a rights issue) but you can get the news live. It is missing the one essential thing a TV needs though – a little tiny remote control ;o) The phone uses RealPlayer to manages the video stream and so far performance has been great.

Jan 10

DRM Stuff

Shelley Powers has started a must-read thread on DRM, the agruments for and against. Personally, I’m in favour of looking for business models that reduce DRM. Having lost a number of albums due to a hard drive failure, the only way to get them back at the moment seems to be to repurchase. I’ve bought them once, why should I do it again?

e=books are another area that are are impacted by DRM. Sony announced a new Reader at CES which tried to make the experience closer to reading the real thing. If the content was there, I’d buy something like this. I buy a large number of books. Some are keepers; I’ll buy reference books or certain authors in hardback. But a lot of the books I buy are more disposable; they’re thrillers or holiday books, books that will go to be recycled or to the charity shops because of space limitations. They’re often bought before travelling. These are the ones that I’d buy for a reader. But the content needs to be standardised and accessible, like mp3 not AAC. I don’t want to have to have many different readers because the tech compnies do deals with the publishing companies. I’d want the content available in the same place as the rest of the books as well (these 3 for 2 deals usually end up with me adding an additional one I would not have bought on its own). But a while before we get there – we need both the readers and the content to improve.

On a lighter note, Hugh has 10 Blogger lies, illustrating the gap between perception and reality. No DRM mentioned there.

Jan 06

Eric Shmidt on the BBC

The BBC have just shown an ‘exclusive’ interview, on the main nightly news,with Eric Schmidt of Google promoting the new video service they are going to announce in 2 hours time at CES. It’ll probably follow on their website soon.

Jan 06

Taking this far too seriously

Semanticist “presents a dozen signs that this whole “nanoculture” thing might be a little too much for you to handle.” with the nanoculture being such things as SEO, Web 2.0, New Media and Social Computing . Favourites being

11. You no longer speak to co-workers, but instead refer them to your comments feed.

2. You were totally surprised that your suggested “mashup” between you, your spouse, and the babysitter was poorly received.

and then you get to number 1 in the list..and you know you’re in to this way too deep ;o)

Via Jeremy Zawodny

Posted in fun
Jan 06

Snippets 6th Jan

Yahoo! are running a poll to find the most popular find of 2005. There are serious categories: Community has things like the Can Do Exchange to share skills and knowledge; Educational looks at things like the Mars Rover site But the papers (or at least the Metro) are covering the wilder side, the weird and wacky ones. Two sites that do exactly what they say on the tin are Stuff on my Cat and Punch a Celebrity. Vote for your favourites.

Tools to analyse what bloggers are saying continue to be delivered. Opinmind allows you to add a term and see the balance between positive and negative comments.

Following on from her tips on how to survive a geek dinner, Maryam now lists great reasons for dating a geek; see the comments for the reasons with a twist as well. One of the key ones is they can fix your computer. I can fully understand that one…I’ve finally got my desktop back up and running after the hard drive went kaput, only after a lot of hours put in by some geek friends.

Microsoft have released a critical patch for the WMF exploit earlier than planned, “in response to strong customer sentiment that the release should be made available as soon as possible.” Microsoft being reponsive to lots of feedback instead of waiting for the monthly update slot they were going to use. Don’t forget to uininstall the unoffical patch if you used it.

Having just downloaded the beta for Messenger 8 – or do I have to call it Windows Live Messenger – I was surprised to find I had to agree to T&Cs twice; once before downloading and the second on installing. But signing them twice does not reduce the impact of the default settings…not really taken by the orange and grey combination.


Jan 03

Viral Marketing – or Spam

Update: Goowy responded to this very quickly, commenting on the various posts, changing their sign up and posting an apology on their blog. They’ve recognsied the problem and corrected it; It was still a fundamental mistake to make in the first place though.

Marketeers love the concept of viral marketing. Brand teams and agencies talk about getting websites and ads to ‘go viral’: ‘how can we make this go viral, what do we do to make it spread’ is a very common question. Many think there’s a magic set of circumstances that will guarantee the success of a campaign. There’s a lot of things that can be used to encourage concepts to spread, with seeding in appropriate places, using buzz agents, getting press in a variety of ways to just get enough critical mass to hopefully start the snowball and get all these people talking about the ad/site and therefore the product. Great marketing for a lesser spend – get advocates to do the work for you.

But there’s a commonality that I see – the ‘product’ (marketing material or some other kind of stuff that everyone spreads) has to offer something to the person spreading the word. Marketing has to be good – has to strike a chord, get people involved, make people happy to share with their friends. If you share something, you’re putting your reputation on the line, not the creative agency’s.

But virality cuts both ways – do something monumentally stupid and that will spread as well. Sony learnt that to their cost. And goowy are doing their best to to get there.

Goowy is a “rich experience site which helps you manage your digital lifestyle” according to their homepage. Someone in that organisation had obviously heard of the concept of viral marketing. Great idea I can hear them saying – let’s build it in, let’s make it part of the product. As part of the sign up process, it offers you the option to import all your contacts from your email client. On the page, there’s an option to let your contact know about the service. And it’s checked as default. So if you don’t read everything really, really carefully then it will send an email to every single person in your contact list, with a recommendation to sign up. And some people will and miss the tick box again, spreading the spam. Adriana got caught like this at an early hour this morning; there’s more comments from Ben, David, Barry who got caught in the fall out.

And it is spam – unsolicited and in most circumstances unlikely to be actually recommended by the person it seems to be from. It is such bad practice to have these options set to yes; opt-out is not the way to do it. Even opt-in in this case would be a poor choice – how many people in your address book do you actually know enough to recommend a service? Especially as you appear to be recommending something before you’ve tried it.

I wonder if one of their performance indicators is number of invites sent out and not just sign ups?

Reading their FAQs I find this interesting nugget – they’re addressing spam from their users so it appears that they may have had this question before (they’ve also never read Hormel foods position on the term spam). If I had no idea about email headers, I’d read this as telling me I should consider the emails I got this morning as someone else’s fault, not as a result of their shoddy marketing practices.

I received SPAM from one of your users. Make it stop!
In most cases, a message which you consider to be SPAM, even though addressed from a user@goowy.com is not actually sent from our servers. If the message is not sent from our servers, there is nothing that we can do to prevent this message from being sent. Any messages sent from our servers will have the following as one of the headers:
X-Mailer: goowy mail – http://www.goowy.com
Please note that this can be forged as well, but if this is not present, it was not sent from us. If this is present, please take a look at the received from header, and find the IP address in that header. If you find that we are registered owners of that IP address, please submit the complaint to us at abuse@goowy.com – otherwise, please submit it the abuse department of whatever organization is the registered owner of that particular IP address.

Jan 03


Resolutions were on display in the canteen at lunchtime. The first day back at work found a far larger than usual number of people choosing salad for their lunch instead of any other offering. Walking into Waterstones, another favourite resolution was being encouraged – giving up smoking – with this highly visible display of half-price books to support you in giving up the easy way.


Jan 01

Favourite TV

On a good week I only watch maybe 4-5 hours of TV. It’s not to say that the TV is not turned on more than that, but the programmes on are usually not something I make an effort to watch but is often just background, (in fact, the film Zulu is on at the moment, which is a still enjoyble despite the large number of times I’ve seen it.)

A couple of TV polls caught my eye this week. The first is Time’s best of TV for 2005. Being an American list, I’ve only heard of the first 2 items (Battlestar Galactica and The Office) but I’ll be looking out for the rest. I find it interesting that they put a sci-fi show in first place but Galactica is good drama that is just set in sci-fi world. It’s been one of my favourites this year and looking forward to the new episodes in January.

The other is a poll of the UK’s most missed programmes. 5 out of the 10 are sci-fi, and you could probably add Buffy to this as well ( I wonder if Doctor Who would have been in the list if it had been done last year) So despite my perception of mainstream media normally disregarding such programmes (you rarely see them reviewed) they are well regarded.

.1 Star Trek
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
3. Friends
4. Fawlty Towers
5. Blake’s 7
6. The X-Files
7. Babylon 5
8. Stargate
9. Seinfeld
10. The A-Team

I’m surprised that Stargate is on the list as 2 series are in production (in fact the original is going into a 10th season) and new episodes are a regular on terrestrial TV at the moment. I guess it was not on when the poll was taken.

Posted in TV
Jan 01

Surviving Geek Dinners

Maryam has a great post on how to survive Geek dinners.

Fortunately you don’t necessarily need all these hints at the London Girl Geek Dinners as it is not all a completely techie crowd, but a bunch of people who display their geekness in many different ways. The next one is on 19th January, so sign up on the wiki.

Jan 01

Business Tips

Rick Segal has posted a few business tips for 2006. I especially like this one and can so see the advantages into trying it.

Forward your phone to a responsible person.

Let’s face it, you need the personal touch of a responsible assistant but, as a start up, you can’t afford it. Simple. Forward your phone to a responsible friend. You know the one that keeps the desk neat, remembers people’s birthdays and never seems to have any fast food wrappers tossed in the back of their car. It works brilliantly and you don’t even have to tell them because, being all responsible -n- such, they will handle the calls. A live call gets a responsible person who will take a message for you after the “uh, I’m looking for Rick” stuff. A voice mail gets done with “this is, uh, a message for Rick” which, of course, gets dutifully transcribed by your responsible friend. Try to get the one not particularly tech savvy so you can blame this on the phone call company with a reasonable shot of getting away with it. As a start up, these costs savings will add up.

Jan 01

Happy New Year

A Happy 2006 to everyone. A traditional time to take stock, looking backwards to what has been and forwards to what may be. To make resolutions about how things are going to be different next year, how you’ll improve your life or try and improve the lives of others. Technorati are asking people to tag resolution posts with
and you can see the results here. A whole load of people wanting to do something different., although losing weight and getting fit is definitely a common theme ;o)

In my case, I’m definitely going to be doing something different and my resolution is to make a success of it. After over 14 years with the same company, I’m going to be leaving. My intention is to do freelance project management, starting off with doing some work for the Big Blog Company in implementation of blogs, after that, anything is possible. I’ve still got two months to set everything up (it’s a very long notice period) but after that I can see the year bringing losts of challenges. But it’s going to be a fun ride.