Sep 30

Blogging Changing Lives

Via Problogger, a story of how blogging can impact lives. By updating an ad format, a blogger increased her daily income by nearly 400% wh5ch has the potential to really change her life (coming off benefits, etc). So here’s a story of what appears to be an ‘average person’ (who’s not a hairdresser) not only knowing about blogs but using them to change their lives.

Sep 29

Google Moonbase

In the unusual situation of an April Fools joke taking a step towards reality, Iread that Google has teamed up with NASA to co-operate in areas such as IT solutions, data management and nanotechnology. This includes such things as remote sensors – are they going to be doing a survey for the new base on the planned next trip to the moon in 2020 or just looking for the cheese?

Sep 29

Search for ideas

PSFK (a blog I occassionally contribute to) are supporting a ‘speed-investment’ session (like speed dating, but to get money instead of a night out!). If you have a great idea looking for funding, take a look at the details.

Sep 29


Ethan Zuckerman documents a Jimmy Wale talk, looking at 10 things that will become free over the next 10-25 years, as in free of licensing, freely available, free to use, mix and repurpose. But these things won’be become free of their own accord, it will take time and effort from volunteers who get involved. To get involvement, Ethan writes about 2 things that could enable the work

– When users have a strong personal incentive to collect information, they’re more likely to do so. I create metadata about webpages in because it makes it easier for me to find these pages in the future – the fact that you might benefit from this metadata is a happy coincidence, but it’s the benefit to me that makes me do it, not a utilitarian impulse. This suggests to me that projects like Television Information will succeed, as they’re analogous to projects like CDDB, or its open alternative, MusicBrainz.

– Projects where users can work on bite-sized chunks are likely to succeed, while projects that require massive organizational effort from one or more individuals are less likely to succeed. This, I believe, is why Wikipedia has had so much traction, while Wikibooks is having less luck. It’s one thing to commit to writing a 500-word encyclopedia essay – it’s another thing entirely to commit to writing a book and giving it away, or even to outlining a book and asking others to commit to fleshing it out.

As always, things proceed better if there is something in it for the person involved and if it is easy. There will always be people who go above and beyond in their contributions but ease of getting involved drives higher involvement. With ‘free’ information, i’m more likely to contribute if I can dip my toe in the water first and take small steps to build up expertise.

Sep 28


Terry Pratchett’s new novel Thud! is out. Always a dab hand at satire, the Discworld takes eveyday objects and gives them a twist. So now we have the imp-powered Dis-Organizer Mark 5. It’s imp powered because the world does not really do technology, but tather technomancy, using magic. (Joke spoilers coming if you read his books) .

So now, The Gooseberry offers Bluenose Integrated Messenger Service, where the imp runs really fast to the nearest telegraph station. As a full multi-media entertaining mobile device, it offers the games of Splong! (with its own set of bats) or Guess the Imps weight in Pigs. Alternatively, the imp will whistle one of your favourite tunes using the new, improved iHUM function that allows the imp to remember 1500 songs. take a read – fun books.

Sep 28

ERP meets Wiki

Interesting to see that SAP, in my experience a large, process-driven, intricateand at times unwieldy piece of enterprise software, has invested in SocialText. SAP’s current offerings are what I would call the most malleable when it comes to sharing qualitative information across a workforce, so it would be great if they could offer a less rigid solution. You may have guessed that we use SAP extensively in the company I work for, and have some difficulties with it!

Sep 28

Dog Blogs…

..or something like that ;o). Via the BBC, DDB London* have conducted a poll about the ‘average’ persons** knowledge of new terms, iincluding blogging, podcsting and broadband. “Our research not only shows that there is no buzz about blogging and podcasting outside of our media industry bubble, but also that people have no understanding of what the words mean. It’s a real wake-up call.”

It doesn’t surprise me; very few people I talk to know what a blog or a podcast, but they do know broadband. But why is it a wake up call. Before this year, how many media agencies were aware of blogs?

*unfortunately they have their site down for updating – not a good idea they day you release a story!)
**The average person appears to be a taxi driver, a hairdresser or a pub landlord.

Sep 28

Renting DVDs

I signed up for Amazon’s DVD rental service at the weekend. SO far, so good. Set up a list on Sunday, desptched on Monday and arrived Tuesday. I guess the test wil come on the return and turnaround time, but feedback fromothers is that the service is good. It was fun settingup the list, going through lots of DVDs and adding all this stuff that I’ve not had chance to go to the cinema to see. But all I have to do is find time to watch – I’m still working my way through 24 and just received the 6th series of The West Wing.

Sep 23

Web 2 Memes

An O’Reilly meme map taken from discussions at Foo camp can be found here. Nothing new I would say, but it brings it together nicely. Interesting that a diagram that lists the ‘Right to Remix – some rights reserved’ as one of the memes is published with all rights reserved.

Sep 23


Following up on my Rude Britain post, YesButNoButYes actually finds pictures of some of the place as well as pointing to the full list.

The British Library project Turning the Pages™. Is just wonderful. Works are filmed, turned into 3D repesentations and presented virtually. You view the original publications, interacting with them, and can listen to the audio book at the same time. See here for more information about how they do it.

There’s a second Girl Geek Dinner on October 11th. Sign up on the wiki . I won’t be able to make this one as should be in New York working. Well worth going – it was great fun last time.

Sep 22

Rude Britain

From Rude Britain, a book by Rob Bailey and Ed Hurst, here’s what they consider the top 10 rudest place names in Britain. The authoirs have listed 100 real places, taken photos of the the place signs and done some research into the origins of the name – whilst maintaining a well-honed sense of humour. Take a look – a potential fun Christmas present*

10 Slag Lane – a street in Haydock Merseyside
9 Shitterton – a hamlet in Dorset
8 Back Passage – an alley in City of London
7 Fingringhoe – a village in Essex
6 Muff – a village in County Derry
5 Sandy Balls – in Hampshire
4 Twatt – a cillage in Orkney
3 Bell End – a street in Rowley Regis, W Mids
2 Minge Lane -a street in Upton upon Severn, Worcs,
1 Cocks – a village in Cornwall

*if the shops in Oxford Street are already selling Christmas cards, wrapping and ‘seasonal’ presents, then I can mention it!

Sep 20

Shopping News

Yesterday I received my first order from ocado, the online supermarket. Looking through what I had received, I found that I’m obviously ignorant of what I actually buy when walking round a supermarket and do much of it out of habit. many of the sizes were just wrong, either too small (beans, oil) or too large (pasta, tuna) So I have little idea of actual size of the products that I pick up.

I was in Debenhams yesterday. The shop in Oxford street is going through a refurb and there have been some changes in the fitting rooms. All items are scanned going into the changing room and then the ones you decide to buy are scanned on the way out. I think this is so the individual franchises in the store know what they have to collect from the room, although it probably has a shoplifting deterence as well. If I was ever in town at a weekend I suspect the scanning would slow the entry of customers. In a further change, they have added scanners into each cubicle (as in the picture). The idea is that if you want to change the size or get something to match, you scan the barcode and call for assistance.


Whilst browsing, I came across an frustrating site, which I won’t name, however it is a large FMCG. First of, the job site won’t work in anything but Windows and IE.

Please note you will not be able to access this system if you are using a MAC or any other kind of Internet Browser software apart from Microsoft Internet Explorer (eg. Morzilla or Firefox).(sic)

After switching browsers, I find that I cannot easily navigate and I cannot easily view the jobs. It’s a SAP based website and is using Adobe Acrobat to present the jobs which does not want to display at all on my machine. Overall, not a good experience – a site built for the HR function not potential applicants.

Sep 19

Independent Review

I was reading the Independent this evening andm in amongst other site reviews, was a favourable write up of BoingBoing. Unfortunately the URL printed AND the screenshot was from the mispelt ad page BoinBoing. Did the editor even wonder why there was such an enthusiastic write-up for something that appeared to be nothgin so dull?

Sep 19


BL Ochman led me to today, an interactive blog book (referred to as a blook, which is a poor name). The murder mystery story is just starting, and will spread itself across the blog, a wiki, a website and a discussion forum. The storyalso has the potential to go its own way on the interactive wiki.

Great idea; the first chapter is intriguing and the use of multiple ways of presenting data, including the fictional blog comments that all add to the story. Subscribe to the RSS feed to get installments and let the mystery unravel. You could wiat until the book is published in early 2006, but this is more fun and more involving.

Sep 19

Powers of Observation

On the train home, I usually sit in the same part, right at the front. At the station I get off, the exit to the station is opposite the front of the train and I just like getting straight off and on my way. As at Waterloo, the platform entrance is at the back of the train, I know that I’ll walk the length of it wherever I sit, it just feels better to have a shorter walk at the end of the journey.

My preferred sitting position allows me to observe a few peculiarities of human behaviour- the attempt o get through the locked door. Mnay people just walk right up and try and get through the last door of the train, which only leads to the drivers section. Some people have walked through a few carriages, and each time the doors are inviting. There’s a brightly lit green button and you can see through the windows to the carriage beyond. The last door is different though; there’s a handle, the door button is unlit and, the biggest clue of all, the view through the window is of blackness – there is nothing beyond., But still people try and open it before giving up, looking around either puzzled or sheepishly before turning around to find a seat. Some are tipsy, others seem perfectly sober, but many try it.

But what puzzles me more is the people who walk down the outside of the train, get on at the last set of doors and then try and go through the end of the train. I’ve never seen the train parked in such a way that it is impossible to see that there are no further carriages, there’s always a space. But sometimes, it does not register and they try the door; or, even scarier, maybe it does register but the door is tried anyway, soem small part of the brain living in a Harry Potter worl where there is a train behind the locked doors, where they will get a nice large seat and no-one to bother them.

Sep 19

Talk Like a Pirate

It’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day, so you’re supposed to talk like a pirate all day – like this Savage Chickens cartoon. However, I subscribe to the theory that not all pirates were linguistically challenged and will continue to talk (and type) normally…;o).

Update…Cap’n Scaramouch comments about me not getting into the spirit of this. He may be right, but I tried, I tried but it just does not work. I obviously did not watch all the right Errol Flynn movies in all their reriuns- and I did not notice Johnnie Depp talking this way…

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