Jun 30

Battersea Power Station

I was supposed to be doing some biz dev today, but the meeting got cancelled after the other party spent all night playing werewolf (I still don’t see the attraction in that game). I thought I’d try and do something a little bit different and Annie Mole came through via Twitter, after she’d just written a post about a consultation exercise taking place at Battersea Power Station.

Battersea Power Station

They’re looking at doing the place up, after it has in effect been abandoned for 25 years. It’s been tried twice before, so there’s no guarantee, but the idea looks good. It definitely needs something doing, as it’s a gorgeous building, just waiting to be used. The idea is a mixed use place, with parks, new buildings, shops and galleries. They’re looking at building a tower bigger than the chimneys, to act as a cooling tower for the green development.

Battersea Power Station

First up, you go round a presentation and model about the new development. It all looks very good and all the posters are positive. Part of my feedback is I think they should also list objections or problems and what they are doing about it, to make the coverage more balanced. I also suggested to the team they should start showing feedback and their responses, so people can see that it’s actually been read and listened to. They seemed to think that was a good idea and gave the indication they’d be doing that – so if there’s a feedback board up later this week, it’s all down to me!

After the questionnaire, you get to wander into the site, following a fenced off track, but you ge thte chance to at least look in the building. I’m surprised it’s still standing, as it’s nothing but an empty shell, only walls and broken windows. It’s a fascinating view of a building that seems to have so much potential just trying to burst out.

Battersea Power Station

I think it’s well worth a trip if you are in the area. Full details can be found at Battersea Power station page

Jun 23

Mashed 2008

Mashed 08

After my day at Interesting, I jumped on the Tube up to the BBC run Mashed, up at Alexandra Palace. This was a 36 hour or so hacking festival, with people all over the place coding and building new tools, most of which had something to do with a whole load of BBC feeds/API/data that were available (although in most cases only for the weekend, as a trial).

I’m not a coder, so I was not doing anything on that side. I went along to mee tup with a few people and to take part in the Social Flight Sim, a mad idea put together by Ewan Spence. He’d pulled together some people to build a flight simulator, using Google Earth as the ‘world’ and then bashed together a wooden plane to hold all the controls.

The pilot controlled the speed, height and direction, whilst the navigator managed the course. IT was originally thought that we would have to fly continuously through the night, but with a plane that could travel at 30 thousand kilometers/hour (even if the tech could not keep up with it) we could zoom by the boring bits such as the Pacific and the Atlantic.

Ewan has a video of the presentation, where he co-opted some of the pyrotechnics that the BBC had put up, to make a grand entrance (with the smoke subsequently opening up the roof again). No big prizes, but it got mentioned in dispatches a few times for being memorable!

Around 50 projects were presented, with the Northenders subtitle translator winning a couple of things. Other prizes went to Twitter on TV, using the interactiveTV API to feed in Twitter feeds to the TV, a accessibility project that pulled the data from the BBC feeds and re-presented it in a format that made it far more accessible for visual or leaning impaired people and a FireEagle>Lonely Planet hack that gave you information about where you are.

Overall, I had a great time; the organisation looked great, they kept us well fed and watered and the beanbags were their usual brilliant selves. Looking forward to the next one!

Jun 21

Interesting 08

I spent most of today at Interesting 08, the conference put together by Russell Davies, pulling a whole lot of, well, interesting people together. I had a great, thought-provoking day

Here’s some notes on the talks. They ranged from 3 mins to about 20 and covered all sorts of topics. The notes are really just impressions.

Roo Reynolds – Lego is fun and everyone should be using more.

Gemma Teed – horses spook because they are herd/predator animals, even if now they spook at umbrellas instead of lions, tigers and bears. ( I used to ride one that hated pigs, a common fear of horses, and used to end up dancing all over the road if we came across one unexpectedly)

Collyn Chipperfield – tired of reality, why aren’t we doing more with fantasy. Let’s explore the possible.

Steve Hardy – Generalists do a lot of things. They present information: synthesise and summarise. They Generate ideas: link and leap. They connect people: mix and match. They understand world view: experience and empathise.

Daniel Raven Ellison – Geography is about place and space, security and freedom. Geography is the now and the future. We need to do more earth writing, changing and challenging what goes on

Michael Johnson – a walk through guitars and graphic design whilst playing the guitar to illustrate the journey. (one of the faves)

Phil Gyford – masks. How masks mean y you have to communicate more with gestures and body language instead of it all being in the face.

James Wallis – a geophysical survey of World of Warcraft, where timing walking distance shows the world to be about a 12km diameter sphere, but the gravity is similar to Earth, so it has a density about 500x greater than Earth. Such a dense mass distorts time (which is why so much is wasted in there)

Matt Dent – how he designed the reverse of the new coins and the process that went into actually getting it done.

Matt Webb – the ancient Patagonians communicated using mirrors and light and you were supposed to be able to see across the country, something that is not possible due to diffraction etc . All this changed when the Conquistidors arrived. Did they infect the continent with European physics as well as smallpox?

Andrew Webb – travelling the country looking at food and how it’s made Surprised and happy at the passion, talent and openness on show.

Andrew Walkingshaw – the naming of things. Names give power. On the web, everything has a name, but my sites are not me, they’re just aspects of me.

Andrew Dick – had insomnia for 10 years. the best cure he’s found is audio books of crime novels. Needs to have a strong plot (although writing is rarely good), abridged versions are best, no moral ambiguity, has to be a little bit thrilling – boring stuff means you think about other things and it should make going to sleep fun.

Jenny Owen – a tribute to Churchill

Matt Irvine – an ad hoc recorder orchestra (Completely mad, I got up on stage for this)

Lloyd Davies – some ukelele playing and then some mediatation

Simon/Ken/Curtis – welcome to Mars. A reading about the development of the suburbs to weird spacey sound effects.

Anna Pickard – words are funny, especially with k or p or b. She likes biscuit. (I like soggy)

Younghee Jung – a view of toilets around the world

James Bridle – IN vino, civitas. Booze has always been part of civilisation.

Kim Plowright – a history of vacuum cleaners. First ones were on the backs of carts brought to you. First personal ones cost 5 months wage.

James Houston – a remized Radiohead Nude video, which he’d used as final part of his degree

Jim Le Fevre – using a camera and a record player to make animation. (zoetropes) (Brilliant demonstration)

Gavin Starks – Acoustic Cosmology. the readings from the universe can be turned into sound.

Joel Gethin Lewis – Hiraeth, a welsh term for a sense of longing, of being in the moment and time sin his life when he’s been there (I though it was supposed to be spelled hiraedd)

George Oates – A brief run through the ‘prizes’ that get offered on Flickr and how they are used to give and receive recognition.

Lea Becker – scribbles are good. what are good illustrations. sometimes just let the ideas flow.

Leisa Riechelt – the brain is designed to learn. we continuously lose brain cells from the moment we are born, the ones we keep depend on how we use them

Max Gadney – a look at the tools of WWII. Are we only now able to start to look at WWII with real scholorship?

Lots and lots of different things, all sorts of topics, all sorts of wonders. What would you want to talk about. Me, I have an idea around geneology.

Jun 16

Day of the Figurines

I’m off to Hide and Seek Fest in a fortnight, a London games festival that is taking place over a weekend, with lots of different types of games. However, one of them has already started – the Day of the Figurines

Day of the Figurines

You go to the Southbank Centre, sign up, choose your tiny little figure from the ones displayed and then start playing by text. You have a map and a set of commands and you control your person that way. Each day is the equivalent of an hour in the game. You can move around, get things, talk to people and get set challenges. So far I’m cold and hungry, so not having good day! Go and sign up, it’s fun.

Jun 15

London Naked Bike Ride

Yesterday, I was planning on going to the Flickr Walk about and then wondering off later to catch pictures of the London Naked Bike Ride where “riders decorate their bodies and bikes with messages of protest against oil dependency and car culture.” I got up late and never really got my stuff together to get to London early enough for the photowalk, so just decided to watch the latter.

London Naked Bike Ride 2008

Just before 4pm, police bikes screamed down the Mall to stop traffic at the corner on Parliament Square. I got myself into position and started clicking away – click through the image and you can see the rest of the set. It’s indicative of the internet I think that the images with the largest view counts are the ones with women in!

The place was full of tourists – it has to be one of the busiest tourist places in London. The overwhelming reaction was FUN. There were smiles and laughter, a shared moment at what was the obviously eccentricity of the British (even though these rides take place world wide).

Jun 04

public service announcement

public service announcement, originally uploaded by RachelC.

These two fine chaps are after a date. But they have a few requirements:
1. Be able to reverse a trailer
2. Be able to rig a single in the dark.
3. Be able to rig an 8 in 20 mins.
4. Know nielson kellerman wiring
5. Remember rigger serial numbers and the boats they belong to
6. Recall rigging tables
7. Know what all the above means

I think they’re being too picky!

Jun 02

Books Read in May

I’ve decided to try and track the books I have read. I’m rereading a few of my collection, so a mix of old and new. So here’s May

  • Undiscovered Country, Bill Bryant. An old read, I really enjoy Bryant’s writing and seem to have most of his books.
  • Skin Privilege, Karin Slaughter. Another author I tend to pick up as an easy read. As the next few selections show, thrillers tend to be my default choice of entertainment read.
  • Strike Back Chris Ryan I’ve had mixed thoughts about Ryan’s books. This one I enjoyed; the character was generally likeable despite seeming to switch situations with an ease I would have though impossible. It leaves it open to more, so looking forward to that.
  • The Chemistry of Death Simon Beckett
  • Written in Bone, Simon Beckett . I got the 2 Beckett books in a special offer. Superb thrillers.
  • Lord of the Isle, David Drake (free pdf from Tor). An OK book, easy read and made me interested in the characters. To be added to the ‘if in an offer’ list to buy the next one.
  • Why Sex is Fun, Jared Diamond. An old book, this time round it frustrated me, the tine being too simplistic for me. Diamond is one of my favourite science writers and I recall loving the rest of them, so not sure if this was written to be too general. I’m going to have to read another one to check if I’ve not gone off him.
  • Little Brothers Cory Doctorow (free pdf from Cory). This is not yet available in UK. Absolutely wonderful. Recommend it – read it now.
  • Pirates Dilemma Matt Mason Another great book, a challenge to industry to take a good look at themselves and their competitive position. I saw him talk at the RSA, giving a short version of the book. His argument is compelling. (It also turns out that he recognised me, as we probably bumped into each other in NY. If only I could remember where!)
  • Through Wolf’s Eyes, Jane Lindskold, (free pdf from Tor). Realy interesting fantasy novel – I need to read more of her stuff.