Jul 01

F1 FOTA Fan Forum – Environment

This is live blogged at the Santander F1 FOTA Fan Forum. It will possibly contain errors and missed sentences. For the full story, make sure you catch the videos later.

Updated 3/7 with video

Luca Coliani
Tony Fernandes
James Allen
Martin Whitmarsh
Jock Clear
Paul Di Resta

JA: FOTA announced about cut in carbon emissions, new engine formula

Martin: Fuel allowances? reduce on year, making engines more efficient?
TF: Danger is too much testing, then costs go up, and emissions go up. Not sure how to police it…ideas that should be considered. It needs to be from tech, the tech should be relevant. should an duct be used in cars, no, but kers will. they should be hand in hand, but should not make too complicated.

Frankie Dewer: talk about environmental engine formula, but concorde finished in 2012…is there a chance for change given last negotiations.
MW: there is…this ones a good idea. The teams, manufacturers etc, we are all aligned. we did a study of our carbon footprint. the cars going round the circuit is 0.1% of emissions, it;s the other stuff. the car is a tech showcase, used to deliver tech that is relevant. it is a great test bed and accelerator to tech. as a sport, we have to look at where we are spending resource, and that is why we did a cross sport body, first body to take the analysis, publish it, commit to check it. what we have done is encouraging so far, demonstrate what we have done to date, more effort needed…a new engine, lower capacity, direct injection etc, all appropriate tech we should be showcasing, we all want to do it and need to finalise it.

Daniel Clegg: Why does f1 have this obligation, surely should do best for sport?
JC: there is a responsibility to all of us to perform tasks in green/efficient way. From engineers view, it does not matter what the ergs are, we will make the car fast..there is no downside..we have clever engineers who will develop whatever tech you point them at and seems a pop to use that dev to knock onto the car in the road, the smallest improvement in a road car will outweigh f1 savings…we are here to improve product to make it available as every day tech..the rule makers have to present engineers with genuine challenge in making car faster more efficiently. starting with less fuel is better for speed..so give incentive, they will come up with the tech
TF: it is important, there are brilliant people. if they can use brains in a way to make planet better, then they should. Everyone has to play their part, it is easy to whack industry..they should be together to make tech better.

Jul 01

F1 FOTA Fan Forum – The Overtaking Question

This is live blogged at the Santander F1 FOTA Fan Forum. It will possibly contain errors and missed sentences. For the full story, make sure you catch the videos later.

Update 2/7: I’ve added the video

Luca Coliani
Tony Fernandes
James Allen
Martin Whitmarsh
Jock Clear
Paul Di Resta

Christopher Nolan: F1 has reached a turning point, FOTA has won concessions, FIA under new management. Circumstance, luck and tech. is it diff to find solutions to overtaking. Can the rules be relaxed to allow this?
MW: A popularise view that we should have more overtaking..in first few races we did 39 takes, largely due to the fact we made a hash of qualifying if too much overtaking, then intrigue goes away, quickest guy at front etc. Media has a little too much of a fetish about overtaking..we are doing some things, rear wing next year, the regulation that accompany it are critical and not enough through yet, eg proximity sensor seems sensible to work with. we need to try and be prepared to say we are wrong and pull bank, not what we do traditionally, we run into them, heave to experiment, people want F1 to be meritocracy , what quickest driver,/car, wants a little unexpected to happen, we’ve had fanatics races, a good championship fight.
PdR: the drivers are keen to overtake, but the safety involved; they don’t want to see what happens in US, where all slip stream. you want to see people taking after mistakes. FOTA have come up with some good ideas, but we need to address it…

Q: It used to be about braking, now it’s about slipstream..why not make braking harder.
JC: Understand, but the level of driving is so good that these guys do not make mistakes, there is still a distance…they will hit it on the nail every lap, and there is only one racing line and unless you are on it, you can’ go faster enough. It’s not tech, brakes etc, it’s the drivers. We have to come up with ways of circumnavigating the skill level, without going away form the skill. we don’t want situation where it is pointless to defend..I like a 15 lap dinging when they never overtake then a simple overtake, Watching CH defending himself is fantastic. We have to be careful not to lose what we have this season.

John Elvey: How can you use tyre supplier to enhance racing?
LC: the combination of Montreal was special, normal choice of tyres, (same as Bahrain), we had a different surface. it is difficult to say more difference, as we have to keep in mind safety, don’t need to push random. it depends on Pirelli what they what to do and will look with engineers to go this direction but not too far.
JA: one safe tyre and one edgy tyre.
TF: threes should be a real difference…more strategy. i hope they are different and have an impact on race.

Josh Piggot. Not the amount, but the opportunity, Reducing grip and increasing mechanical grip is seen as best way..what is the best way to follow through corners.
PdR: Canada was quite special, bit were close on performance…but degraded differently. as a driver, you lose downforce, as they close up, when things work, you can follow closely..what they did last year has improved and it will improve next year.

Q:Frank Durney: Have to agree we have had a great year,..we should not change too much,,we should use tech and knowledge to do this. never seen that more mechanical grip gives more overtaking. If so, then worst races in wet..sims show that grippier tyres would have lot of overtaking

Zachary: Surely it would be unfair to give on;y the following driver the ability to adjust wing, better with all
JC: don’t have a strong opinion. we need to think to understand the implications. what we tend to do, we tend to pose a change on the format we see at the moment, we need ot look beyond that, to where they will all develop, what are the engineers going to go. what the implications are. I don’t know if that is the solution. we have to be careful how we go about this, I would have said lets try this..but with season we have it would be a shame to go the wrong way and give us another problem, we need to think and let brains think about,
MW: we give our drivers a variable rear wing and other teams don’t like it. We need to option, we can’;t design in last minute and we have to be careful of how to deploy it.

Jul 01

F1 FOTA Fan Forum – Fan Experience and Show

This is live blogged at the Santander F1 FOTA Fan Forum. It will possibly contain errors and missed sentences. For the full story, make sure you catch the videos later.

Update 2/7: I’ve added the video from the event

Luca Coliani
Tony Fernandes
James Allen
Martin Whitmarsh
Jock Clear
Paul Di Resta

Q: Daniel Hughes. What are FOTA doing to reduce cost of GP? YOu did say 12 months ago (I think) that you were doing something to reduce costs but they are no less this year.
MW: Don;t recall making statement; but may have! regrettably the teams have no control, in a direct sense, but clearly cost of tickets..is high and prohibitive…there are GP that we go to that aren;t fully attended. is an issue. t do with traditional model of F1 and will come up as a recurring theme. as a business model, sold as expensively and venue as expensive as can. the money has been prong into teams and parts of sport..we need to be more engaged and today is a small example, we need to consider show and that there is ale, we need tt do something different and engage in new media in a way that has not been done. a lot of pop to improve, don;t n=know who to do quickly. the concorde agreement, comma agreement, we the tams have to re-negotiate and I hope her eis emphasis on reinvesting, to a greater extent in past.

Alex Hurley: In recent tines, F1 has been about improving the show in fans. but how do you bring new people, lack on continuity make it difficult. for people new
TF: new rule can befit as everything starts form beginning,t here could be too many. there are lots of fiddling around with many things and complicating. a good start to season, lot of exciting thing.s right direction, there are too many and it could be complicated for plan. the aviation does it’s best to complicate and F1 does the same. it would be good to simplify and get it down to racing and there is an effort on FOTA to make it fun

Robin Martin: Distribution of rich real time data evolving?
JC: From engineering, it is all about data, dev, making it faster. From a geeky POV I’d be all for this data, there are lot of people out there who would love this, when I watch a race, i have it all evolving, info you can pick out a glance, it would enhance their viewing. Ir timing pages, telemetry (a subset) it can be looked into. you don’t have to use it, you can just watch what is going on. there are a lot of who appreciate tech and viewing enhanced greatly. it would add a level of understanding for those who would want to. Like my Mom, who understands it, can’t see why SCH is stuck t red light. It’s not that diff and we should push it
LC: we should ask for the media, to them to explain to the fans, to explain what is going on. my own experience, in Valencia, following it,listening to Italian TV commentator, btw lap 9 and 10, assumed they did not understand, I had to explain why and what was happening. It is important that the media have more access and later on, explain what is the reasoning. so need to put pressure on .

EM: Can you see F1/FOTA extend social networking to get fans involved.
TF: Got t2 devices, one for red bull and one for lotus. It’s already started, I felt it was inclusive, so myth more that could be shared. I could listen to radio via Skype, wouldn’t it be good for fans to follow. the more open we are the better, more transparency, explain it better..I still don’t understand the safety car rules. All in favour of it. All teams have twitter and all embrace it. Teams follow each other, we need to get more out. there is more tech that will make it more interactive, fun, make it more interactive.
LC: it is not that the teams don’t want. we have to consider agreements that put limitson usage of info that have available, we would love to put radio on sites, we are limited on this. We need to keep this in mind, for 2015, for new F1
MW: long way to go, only a few years ago we spent 100sk encrypting radio so they could not listen. we said they had to stop and share. now it is available to FOM, they get it all, they can get it all and broadcast, if juicy and salacious they generally do.. we are in a commercial relationship, FOM is the commercial arm. we get wrapped knuckles occasionally for being too open. no lack of will, we need to evolve and it will, but may be not as quickly as you like

Q: Regarding Fan experience, with penalties after race, it changes results is this detrimental?
JC: very frustrating, from coal face, my everyday work is shortsighted, looking at what it does on next lap…it is frustrating form my point and I don’t know full situation. we need to get hold of, too many instances when tv goes off and it changes…that can only detract from the experience. On subject of info flow, the media have argued..they say that if this much available, it sort of detract form how exciting and spontaneous. Having the info available, you can see what people are doing, eg canada with Red bull on wrong time and say if that is there the fans will switch off. the fans like to have an in-depth knowledge…if info available you can make own judgements, if you are proved right then you are engaged.

John Porter: Views on expansion on calendar..will it be adverse if more than 20 races. Is there a balance in races?
MW: 20 races is a lot, should not go more than that. that’s 60 days..don’t think product is one you need greater exposure,. we should not grow, we need to respond to commercial pressures though. for new markets, the US is clear and obvious, we have not conquered. a huge market, they have an particular outlook on sport not ness shared. F1 has made a hash of it, not consistent venue. not developed/marketed outer there We need to be there, east and west, 5 year programme, there is an pop and there is room for both. with Europe, we must hold on to the British, Italian, Monaco,
TF: 20 is fine and we have to work them. too often, they re just thrown on there and we don’t put enough effort..all have to contribute..Turkey could be huge if we put effort there. It needs to be global. there needs ot be proper marketing, form all, we should be working US early, to get the anticipation. there has to be a lot of marketing and lot of hard work

Jul 29

Telegraph Visit

Telegraph Visit

Last night, I went along to The Telegraph to take part in a focus group, about various aspects of the paper. A completely mixed group discussed values, requirements, possibilities and likes and dislikes (yes, I’m being vague, they’re doing research and it’s polite not to mention what on) It was a surprisingly fun 90 minutes as we all got a chance to express what we thought of the paper. Then we had a quick tour of the newsroom which gave me an insight into what happens.

  • it’s a hub and spoke mechanism, with the editors meeting taking place in the centre. the closer you are to the centre the more ‘important’ you are in making editorial decisions.
  • The working environment looked great but they seem to cram a lot of people in. When we walked through, it was extremely quiet but I’m guessing noise can get loud when busy
  • Despite all the technology present, there was still a layout board with a bunch of papers and a scalpel sitting there.
  • The news and information input is large – as in huge screens. They have screens showing all the major news channels, the website and a updating list showing the most visited pages on the website, to generate soem healthy competition
  • They have what looks to be Twitterfall running continuously on a big screen, with an eye on the trending topics.
  • I loved the reference library; I want one
Feb 20

Notes from BeeBCamp

I was honoured to be invited along to the BBC for their second BeeBCamp, one of a group of external people who came along to, as Philip says ‘to leaven the mix’. Hopefully I contributed something, I definitely learnt a lot. Each session was only about 20mins, not nearly long enough, and many ran over.

UGC: What do you do with it?

Ran by Charlie Beckett, this session asked questions about why the BBC asks for UGC, what they do with it, what are the transaction costs and what is it worth. The session specifically focused on content that is SENT TO the BBC, often current affairs/news related, through the website or after on-air requests. From the discussion, the BBC thinks it obviously does add value, both for the participants (happy to submit things) and for content that is used. But they only use a small handful, with the recent Snow Day resulting in over 60k images being sent in and only a few displayed.

The discussion later went onto the difference between ‘publisher’ or an ‘enabler’. For example, with the snow photos, they BBC could publish a few of them and that would be it. But for one of the audience, who worked in the education site, the BBC could also be an enabler – take the UGC, comment on it and use it to add further value to the relationship, ie discuss how people could take better snow photos.

When it comes to more newsy items than photos of snowman, there is always a burden of verification on the BBC, they have to be sure that what they use is truthful, valid and genuine, so they have to think carefully about what they use and how they can use it.

Games and the BBC

The next session I took part in focused on what the BBC is doing and could do with games. A key issue seems to be the definitions used, which are not consistent. A better set of words to use would be ‘playful content’, stuff that the public can play with. Games/interactivity are part of the BBC remit and their is an opportunity with some re-organisation to consider the strategy and plan for new things. However, there is a cultural issue (as there is most other places) about what games are and what they actually mean to people.

Different groups across the BBC are working on this problem and this appeared to be a great session for them to connect, as the work in London, Radio, Salford and Glasgow were all discussed. There’s some fascinating collaboration taking place between the Glasgow BBC and the University of Abertay in the gamespace.

The BBC could offer some valuable development opportunities, giving game companies the opportunity to do stuff they would not normally be able to do. Dan, from Six to Start, suggested that they BBC need to ensure that there is a clear structure in place to talk to about ideas, as at the moment, it is spread out and not clear at all.

I’m a pirate, what are you going to do about it

A general discussion about ‘piracy’, the Pirate Bay trial in Sweden, alternate routes for getting content and making money out the content, such as bandstocks.com, rights, iPlayer, streams and downloads. According to some around the table, many people are torrenting because of the ease and convenience. Another group argued that actually, it is far easier for most to hit the play button on iPlayer (or Hulu, or whatever your choice is) and torrenting is far too difficult. A key reason why people may struggle through the set up of the clients is because the entertainment is not available in ways that make it easy for them – in their format, their time, their place.

There were three key types of ‘pirates’. those who do it because of ease and convenience of access (the ones who would most easily switch to channel provided routes), those who do it as they will never pay for anything and want to ‘stick it to the man’ (unlikely to choose an alternartive route) and those who want the content to do things with – the remix brigade)

BBC Blackops – post lunch there were a few wild moments triggered by a laptop sticker, where a new pitch for a TV show was considered: BBC BlackOps. It included stealth helicopters, men in uniform zipping down lines, secret computer rooms with computers that could never be turned off and the porn highlight editing suite, producing highlight packages in the same way the sports guys do. (although there was a discussion about how you determine what a porn highlight is). However, the madness soon abated and we got back to the serious discussions.

UGC: Enabling co-creation and remixing

Following on from the first session this morning, which looked at the public sending content to the BBC, I decided to run a session on how the BBC could help enable co-creation and remixing my letting content OUT from the BBC. I tried to steer away from data, which I know they do a fair bit of already via Backstage, and look at the entertainment properties. One rational, which I don’t think I explained in the session, was that the BBC make some great programmes based on the ‘classics’, programmes that appear make a fair bit of money in foreign and DVD sales and win awards. These stories and characters are in the commons, in the public domain, so how are the BBC contributing back to the commons. My notes on this are understandable brief, but it seemed to go well; there were some interesting future activities discussed which will become visible in the next few weeks/months but were not bloggable – I’m looking forward to see what happens with them.

Some notes I took were:

  • Comedy Soup tried something like this, released the raw material, but the uptake was small and had little focus
  • Producers are concerned about people subverting the content. (this is the same argument found in my industry, but brands can be very surprised at how much good stuff can be created
  • Commissioners don’t necessarily have the same understanding as the people round the table
  • Adventure Rock – a children’s virtual world – had great success letting the members create the story around the assets, gave them all the tools to work with.
  • Teachers TV does it all the times – expects remix, reuse and re-release. Al Jazeera does something similar
  • Major concern about allowing more certain types of content (mainly currently affairs/news) out. I think this was a misunderstanding about the call for content to be released – I primarily wanted to focus on entertainment not news. Also, it was never said that it had to be done with everything, you would choose what to release just as carefully as you choose what to broadcast.

A new kind of Book Club

this session was about a new tool that is being developed by Adrian Hon, which allows you to annotate texts/books online. Not new, but he’s adding a lot of social network tools to it, such as groups, notifications etc to make it a far more community appearance. The discussion extended to being able to do this with videos, scripts etc.

Communities and Comments

A mainly off the record conversation about message boards and comments on the BBC. One things I learnt, which is never realised, is the the Points of View Boards have lots of conversations about ITV programmes, such as Emmerdale, as those sites don’t allow conversations. Completely weird in my opinion. In general, the conclusion was that boards where there is clear direction from hosts (community managers) were far more effective than those without, which is not an unsurprising conclusion

That was it; then we went to the pub. Well some of us did, I think a lot of the BBC people went back to their desks! I had a good day and was exhausted at the end of from concentrating hard. This was the second BeeBCamp, i hope they run more.

Jan 28

A pyramid of Silicon Stilettos

A pyramid of Silicon Stilettos, originally uploaded by Annie Mole.

When I first heard about Silicon Stilettos I was not impressed. For me, and others, the name gave the wrong impression when multiple debates still rage about ‘women in technology’. However, I talked to Zuzanna, the instigator and she convinced me to at least give it a try. Whilst I still don’t like the name, I’m glad I went along last night as it was a really good evening and well worth the time.

As I expected, it seems that most people there were on the media side of web, not the tech side, but it was a brilliant networking event. Drink was sponsored by Sun (thanks Stewart) and it it was still flowing when I left. Not too much else to say – except when’s the next one!

Nov 29

Little Brother

I popped along to Forbidden Planet today to a book signing by Cory Doctorow, his first in the UK according to the announcer in the shop. It was to buy a copy of Little Brother, a book I’d already read via the free pdf download he provided on the release of hte book in the US, but I enjoyed it so much it was one i had to buy. Thanks to Danie for promoting the signig so I knew about it.

Cory Doctorow and Little Brother (photo by me)

Cory Doctorow and Little Brother (photo by me)

At the same time, I also picked up a copy of Zoe’s Tale from John Scalzi. As with Cory, this is another author I started to read via free books, this time Old Man’s War which was available at Tor. I started reading his blog from there and am definitely looking forward to reading this (Hello John, if you pop by due to the law of Invocation)

Nov 29

Mobile Geeks, Amplified08 and team building

As well as the Pinkerton Lecture, I made my way to a few other events this week.

Mobile Geeks of London. Run by Whatleydude, this event is a drinking and connecting event, run every few months or there about. I got there later in the evening, after my trip to the IET, to find the place buzzing. There was a special preview of a really cool mobile app, involving barcodes, utilising the idea of putting virtual objects in your screen. The project launches next week (it’s a marketing project) and I’ll be writing about it on Digital Stuffing. I had a great time, buying my ticket for the Mobile Industry Review Christmas Presents and having some great conversations.

Amplified08. I managed to get to the last session at Amplified 08, the first in a series of ‘conferences’ trying to connect the multiple networks across the country. My original choice of session was one on using social networks for change, to compare it with the previous night’s lecture, but I ended up skipping that and joining in an impromptu session about Hierarchy of communication and adoption of the tools. There’s no doubt that many people at these sessions are edge cases, using online tools to connect far more than most, but it was interesting to see how we used things differently. We all had out own hierarchy, the different levels and ways you connect with people.

Team Building and Farewell Parties On Friday, the team got a few hours out of the office to discuss some works processes, but if you were following my Twitter stream you would have noticed the conversation varied a little. We talked about internet use, I was surprised of the lack of usage for someone working building websites. We discussed communication strategies, from email and phone only, through to me who uses a lot more channels. Other topics included Kaplan and Norton’s Balanced Scorecard, co-relation coefficients and the Netflix challenge and the learning of languages. We also got onto London, how it’s a palimpsest of history, multiple layers of meaning. At the end of this, after calling into see James, I went to say farewell to my cousin, who’s back off to Australia after spending a few years here. The pub was just round the corner of Pudding Lane, another reminder of the city’s history.

That’s enough; next week there’s a few things I’ve not confirmed plus a trip to Leeds for the office Xmas party.

Nov 27

London 2012 and Social Media

On the one hand, the Olympics are the most wonderful celebration of humanity, of striving to be the best, faster, higher, stronger as the motto says. On the other hand, I find them – the organisation behind the games – to be one of the most cynical and grasping of organisations, historically prone to corruption, pushing their weight around to control the image, the trademarks, the media rights, anything that generates money.

This evening, I went along to the IET for a Pinkerton Lecture, on using social media to inspire change. Delivered by Alex Balfour, who is the Head of New Media for the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games, it was a brilliant run through of the social media landscape (targeted at the majority of the audience who wouldn’t necessarily play in the space) and an introduction to what LOCOG is doing when it comes to social media.

As Alex ran through some of the innovations that his team has been repsonsible for, such as putting education packs online instead of using mailouts, of putting information for training camp venues up on the web, I wanted to challenge him. Where was the social media, where was the innovation? What he was talking about wasn’t ‘new’, but only new in the old definition of media. An understanding of the mindset of the overall organisation was given when, in answer to one of my questions at the end of the session, let it be known that the media broadcast rights for the 2016 Games, which included digital broadcast, will be signed up in 2009, 7 years before the games, even before the host city is confirmed. Whilst I could understand agreeing traditional TV rights, how can you even understand what could be done online that far ahead? The reasoning given was financial, that TV rights in effect add a huge amount to the running of the games. But why assign them before you know how much it’s going to cost, before you know which city is running it and how much they need. Given the current negotiations with the London budget and how they are going to afford the games, surely it would be better to sign things up closer to the time, when you know costs AND now what you can sell given a changing rights landscape.

Alex also mentioned that the 2010 Winter games are having to work out how they will cope with the media applications from non-traditional outlets, meaning bloggers and online newsites. I asked about this for 2012, but the answer was not clear about the access that would be granted for online reporters.

Alex covered some of the initiatives they have been running with, for example one around the handover parties that took place in August, where they asked people to contribute videos and images of celebration to add to a video they would show at the parties. Another example would be a call for images and content that could be used as part of the venues, either a collection of the content built up over the lead into the games, or ‘live’ stuff created during the games. They are working in a difficult environment, hampered by what sound like unbelievably stupid rules, such as a ban on linking to any site that is not a sponsor, but I’d like to see how they are going to approach some of the challenges

  • One of the basic tenets of social media is sharing. How are they going to let people share the Games, through images, video, remixes, mashups of broadcast content (after the live broadcast)etc if all the ‘rights’ are tied up.
  • With the assumption that every single person at the games will have a mobile phone capable of photography, video capture and live broadcast to the web, how are you going to support that?
  • The sharing of content is often dependent on the use of tags but most of the expected tags wouls be copyrighted or trademarked. Are you going to police that?

One definite conclusion I came away with is that the games will allow social media as long as they control it, as long as it’s on their terms. A couple of videos were shown, one from the Handover celebrations and one from the announcement of the London win. I was in Trafalgar Square that day and recall vividly the rush of adrenaline and the euphoria of that moment, but it’s indelibly linked in memory to the happenings of the day after, so much so that I can’t watch celebration pictures without getting emotional. As I was listening to the how they plan to manage and initiate social media conversations, I was watching news and images come in on my phone about the Mumbai terrorists attacks. There is much irony for me in the contrast of social media used to connect people about what is happening in the world in real time compared to what the Olympic Committee may be forced to do, which is use the tools to leverage a commercial connection.

Aug 05

A Girl’s Guide to the Great British Beer Festival

It’s the Great British Beer Festival this week at Earl’s Court, a huge cavern of a place that is full of beer and beer drinkers. As part of their ongoing campaign to widen the appeal of beer CAMRA are running some free tours, a Girl’s Guide to the Great British Beer Festival. They’re curated by Melissa Cole, who’s an independent beer journalist and member of the British Guild of Beer Writers. Tonight was their first run of the tour, a group of about 12 of us were the guinea pigs for this attempt to spread the word about beer to a different audience.

My first impressions of the place were not exactly brilliant. In one corner, there was a huge group of what I assume were Cornishmen singing their national songs. Elsewhere, there were a lot of stereotypes, beer bellies and silly ‘real ale’ t-shirts that on the surface did not make this a friendly place. But first looks were deceiving and as we wandered round, we got nothing but good humour and support.

Melissa had put together a list of 40 beers to take a look at, however the tour only covered 5 of them, in 1/3 pints, to ensure we were all drinking responsibly. Here’s what we tried.

  • Wells and Young; Youngs Waggledance.. a honeyed sweet ale that was a great start. For me, it only had a very slight honey smell.
  • Copper Dragon; Golden Pippen Ale. Lovely and fruity, with lemony overtones.
  • Dark Star Expresso. Wow. a stout porter with a strong hit of coffee. As one of the party said, you could drink this for breakfast. It would go great with something like Chille Mole. But I could only drink the one at any sitting I think
  • Fuller’s Discovery.. This was a reallyy refreshing, designed to act as a bridge between lager and ales.
  • Iceni Raspberry Wheat. the first taste of this is very, very tart, but overall, it slips down a treat. I’d love this with cheese.

I liked all of them, only a small tasting, bt it’s given me new things to try. Thanks for CAMRA for organising this.

GIrl Guide To Great British Beer Festival

Jun 26

iPhone Madness

Noel and co, as part of his Luck of Seven series, have filmed two Apple fans waiting outside the Apple store at 5th ave New York. They both have blogs. Greg, from Long Island, does not own a Mac nor an iPod, still want a phone and does not know if he can keep it. Dave is third in line and wants to buy two and sell one for charity. Who’s second in line then? Dave’s reasoning:

I just graduated from college, and have another week of vacation to burn before I enter the work world. I can’t think of a better way to learn about New York than hanging out with a wide cross-section of the New York population. Granted, the thought of waiting in line might not strike you as an ideal vacation, but in my travels I’ve found that the best memories come from unscripted interactions with locals.

So go meet them and ask them why..and find out who’s number 2 inline 😉

Update: and here’s why Greg has no Apple products..he’s just a ‘professional’ liner-upper, who spends his life getting on the media. Dave sounds far more interesting (wonder if he’s told his parents yet?)

Apr 16

Google Speaker Event – Luiz Barroso

Last week I attended the latest in the NYC Google Speaker event series: “Luiz Barroso, Google Distinguished Engineer, will talk about “Watts, Faults, and Other Fascinating Dirty Words Computer Architects Can No Longer Afford to Ignore”. Luiz was talking about things way beyond my skill or experience but I still got some great insights into designing hardware and infrastructure. That’s mainly why I go to things like this – it’s new information, just expands what I know a little about. So here’s some notes from the talk; there was a lot more to it than I noted.

  • power and energy usage have not been very sexy when it comes to designing architecture and that has caught up with people. It is now the centre of plenty of attention.
  • In the 90’s there two big research areas, the MHZ race and the DSM (Distributed Shared Memory) race. The first for accelerated single thread performance and second to improve the efficiency of shared memory
  • Moore’s law is fundamentally about transistors. The issue is becoming power; they are energy wasteful and temperature control is difficult. Power costs are increasing and look like being more expensive than the hardware. It may tend towards the Mobile model, where you get a energy contract and then the hardware thrown in for free.
  • they are focusing on reducing conversion losses and improving power conversion. On PCs the power supply consumes much of the energy, with 55-70% efficiency. .
  • Multi-core processes help reduce energy use. You need to design software differently to take advantage of it, building efficient concurrent programs.
  • Google has been monitoring diskfailure. Common wisdom is that failure rate is <1% and temperature is a big factor. So we looked at 100k+ drives over 5 yrs. Failure rates were ~8% after 2 years, all way larger than manufacturers rates and temperature did not appear affect the rate. Trying to find a predictive algorithm has had little success; more than half the disk failures happened with no indicative errors and the arrival of errors did not indicate time to failure. The models are good for predicting population wide trends, ie predicting how many failures you will have and how many replacement disks you need. And also for telling you that temperature does not matter that much.
  • Looking at power requirements, the average data centre costs $10-22/watt used, whereas US average energy costs $0.8/watt/year. It costs more to build a data centre than to power it for 10 years. YOu have to optimise energy usage to be close to capacity, thinking about power provisioning, how many machines can be used, the unused watts cost.
  • Studying power usage, we found the data centre never hit peak capacity, even if a rack on its own could have. A PC uses about 60W at rest, 120 at full usage; a human uses around 60W at rest and 1200W at high usage. We are far more efficient – machines have a factor of 2 between idle and peak, humans a factor of 20. To improeve energy efficiency for data centres, we should focus on reducing the usage of idle power.
  • So by reducing the idle power, with no change in peak, you can get a 40-50% savings. You can reduce the peak power requirements for the data centre as a whole by reducing the machine idle consumption.
Feb 25

Pillow Fight NYC

Yesterday there was a moment of madness in the city, a Pillow Fight organised by newmindspace. An absolute blast, an urban maul in Union Square, where the cameras, both amateur and professional, nearly outnumbered the fighters.


Jun 22

Mobile Tech meetup

Just more gear

Originally uploaded by RachelC.

Another thing I went to on Monday was the Mobile Tech Roundup Meetup, where a gaggle (or another collective noun for the 3 hosts) of mobile podcasters got to meet each other in new York instead of always being in different cities.

Despite a lack of air conditioning, about 10 turned up to chat and look at some cool gadgets. Not being completely au fait with all the names, makes and models i never the less saw somethings I liked, such as the Motorola Q – fe;lt great, light and thin but crap battery life of about 4 hours by the sound of it. The tiny Sony Vaio was good and so was the pictured set up , with EVDO being used to network the device to a Slingbox..so we were watching the ABC TV channel. Testing the download speeds I learnt that it is always good to straighten out the USB wire, as the speed increased from around 500 kbps to over 900 kbps.

And it’s brilliant news to hear that the Slingbox is finally available in the UK.