Jul 28

Digital Rights

At OpenTech last week, one of the panels I missed was abuot a UK Digital rights Organisation. Out of it came a pledge to set up a UK group, similar to the US based EFF. Suw Charman and Danny O’Brien both write about it today, and the Pledgebank pledge, to donate £5 a month to such an organisation if there are 1000 fellow pledgees. A donation of this size should cover 2 people and an office to ensure that both sides of the story are heard. Only 545 people to go.

Jul 28

Self-Publishing

In Waterstone’s at lunch there’s a display advertising self-published books, with a £50 off voucher plus the opportunity to have your book displayed in Waterstone’s on Oxford Street. Looking at the publishing company’s site, authorhouse, there’s no mention of it at all, despite the voucher pointing you at the site for details . What’s even more frustrating is a complete lack of costing info; there’s no way to work out if the deal is good or not. Is it £50 off a few hundred or a few thousand?

Jul 28

Numbers

Tuesday, I had comfortably set a new record for policemen seen in any one place for me. I counted 22 in my walk across the concourse of Waterloo station and down into the Tube system. Today, that number pales into insignificance. I started off the day with a first – 5 police at the Train Station; it appeared to be 2 pairs and their boss. The boss had the posher hat. Most stops along the way had their own police guarding the platforms. Then at the end of the journey, there were 38 police wondering round in groups, loitering in corners, making their presence felt. Two more were found down on the Tube platform – these were obviously the special ones; not only had they been allowed past the ticket barriers but they were dressed in black (no unfashionable yellow day-glo jackets) and carrying very, very big guns.

All these man-made troubles at home, but nature continues to out do us all. In India, the current toll is 430 dead from monsoons that managed to dump over 37 inches of water onto an area yesterday. That’s more rain in a day than the UK normally gets in a year.

Jul 25

London Commuting options

In today’s paper version of the Metro, there are 2 letters from readers that suggest alternative tactics to avoid raising suspicion. The first is a fairly easy one – a girl wearing a huge backpack had put a sign on the reverse – ‘I am going camping’ But that won’t be foolproof, so there is a more radical suggestion – naked commuting; suggested as clothing and bags have beenused to hide things.

I’m really not sure that will catch on.

Jul 25

Ugly

A few weeks ago, Sam, a Chinese Crested dog, won a competition to find the world’s ugliest dog for the third time (does he get to keep the trophy in perpetuity). In line with today’s online meida world, the dog has a blog. And in an experiment (for meme epidemiology I guess) Doc Searls is asking for links. SO here you go. I still think the dog just got photographed in a bad light.

Jul 22

Modern Etiquette

THere’s a website that is run locally, for local news. It has a forum section for quesitons and debate. One of the latest questions:

“What exactly does one do on the Tube when one spots a nervous-looking fellow passenger of Middle Eastern or Pakistani appearance with a rucksack?”

And then suggest a few course of actions such as leaving or pulling the comms cord. One further suggestion is to politely ask them if they mind being asked what’s in their rucksack.

The perils of modern manners.

Jul 21

Getting Home

I was out of the office all day visiting an agency and following the news online. Got home by cab, better than trying to work with the tube system.

As with 2 weeks ago, wikinews was a great summary page, especially when BBC/Sky etc were down. The funiest quote:

“The man who was holding the rucksack looked extremely dismayed.”

Well he would, wouldn’t he. Anyway, the quote seems to have gone from most news websites. (still on the wiki history). Everything is slowly getting back to normal again, no day off tomorrow.

Jul 21

Here we go again

Not even at my work so have no bar this time… Info here

London Metropolitan Police commissioner Ian Blair has confirmed that there have been three small explosions at Warren Street, Oval and Shepherd’s Bush tube stations. Incidents have also been reported on a bus in Hackney and at Waterloo Station. The Northern line, the Victoria Line, the Hammersmith and City Line, the Bakerloo Line and the Waterloo and City Line have been suspended. Whitehall had been sealed off, but reopened shortly after.

Police are currently advising against unnecessary travel in London, asking Londoners to keep travel to a minimum and avoid the public transport system.

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Jul 19

Harry Potter

I picked up the new Harry Potter over the weekend (along with the rest of the 3% of the population who also bought it). It’s nice to see that free enterprise is alive and well, as copies flooded Mumbai on Monday. However, they were not as fast as the digital copies; the book was scanned, OCD’d, proofread and online in less than 24hours.

The book was as expected, no great literary effort, could have done with a good editor but still a great read. I think JK Rowling has been using a tablet PC. The Spellchecer quills, which you use by tapping them on the scroll sound remarkably like the text recognisiton software/pen combination.

Jul 19

Plans

Got a busy few days ahead. Thursday, there’s a couple of farewell parties at work – so free food and drink. Friday, I’m here, at this week’s geek dinner and Saturday I’m at Opentech in Hammersmith. Sunday – I sleep.

Meanwhile, just seen why they delayed the CSI season closer last week on Channel5; yuck, splatter everywhere.

Jul 14

In Memorium

Oxford Street stopped at noon. Led by the buses, the traffic stopped; people came out of offices and shops to fill the pavements. Silence descended; no conversation, no roaring traffic noises. The only people moving were press, both photography and TV. And the odd tourist, wondering round looking slightly bewildered at why no-one was moving and everyone standing in their way.

Jul 12

Human behaviour

Comparing last night’s get together with one that took place earlier, where Robert Scoble was the speaking guest, there were definitely differences. Last night had a far higher proportion of women, I’m guessing attracted to the Marketing label instead of the Geek one. I saw far fewer cameras and far more notebooks – a lot of people took notes throughout Seth’s speach. I’d even go as far as saying the dress sense was more ‘business’ like than previously. Rick Segal and I were discussing doing a straw poll about why people attended and how they heard about it – but we did not really get much further than just discussing and never took the poll.

One thing that was completely the same was the behaviour a the start of the evening, where everyone stayed on one half of the room and did not move past an invisible barrier provided by a couple of columns. So, everyone huddled, a little cramped at times and did not break the line until food was served.

Invisible_Line.jpg

Jul 12

Morning Thoughts

Last night I was at a Marketing Soiree, organised by Hugh McLeod and with a good speech by Seth Godin. I wish I’d taken notes on it, but there were plenty of people who were and I think it was recorded by Lloyd as well, so there’ll be something around later.

Things that caught my eye this morning include the decision to go ahead with the .mobi TLD, which should be available in the first half of 2006. Immediate impact for me will be explainging why some of the areas I work with need yet another domain registered; then actually getting content for it.

The BBC are getting slated for providing all 9 Beethoven symphonies for download. Over 1 million files have been retrieved, but the record industry are (as expected) unhappy with this and complain that a publically funded orgnaisation should not be doing this as it devalues music recorded. Ok, so recordings of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra (funded by the the public) should not be made available on BBC online (funded by the public) because we’re not paying for them? I’ve paid my fees and the BBC are supposed to make it’s programming available – so I think the record industry should just shut up in this case..

An Arizona school has decided to ditch text books and go all online next year. They will provide laptops to 350 students for the year. They appear to have done their research…not. Calvin Baker, superintendent of Vail Unified School District:

It’s not clear how the change to laptops will work, he conceded. “I’m sure there are going to be some adjustments. But we visited other schools using laptops. And at the schools with laptops, students were just more engaged than at non-laptop schools,”

He’s obviously never attended a conference where everyone is typing on laptops and not focusing onthe speaker.

Jul 11

Federation Officers

The UK Hacker charged with accessing NASA systems whislt searching for evidence of UFO activity, had this to say today about his findings:

“I found a list of officers’ names,” he claims, “under the heading ‘Non-Terrestrial Officers’… What I think it means is not earth-based. I found a list of ‘fleet-to-fleet transfers’ and a list of ship names. I looked them up. They weren’t US Navy ships. What I saw made me believe they have some kind of spaceship, off-planet.”
McKinnon, however, said he can’t remember much about the project as he had been “smoking a lot of dope at the time”.

mmmmmm…after that last line, don;t have much else to say really.

Jul 11

British way of life threatened

A tea pickers strike in West Bengal threatens the countries tea harvest and therefore the traditional British cuppa, without which no self-respecting English person could function (why can’t we have a gendernonspecific adjective like american?)

It’s actually a serious report about wages and conditions….although they could always outsource!

Jul 11

Celebration

Marvelous scenes in the Mall yesterday, as 250000 people watched a celebration and commemoration of the end of WWII, 60 years ago. There’s a few photos around on Flickr, try here for MOD stuff.

The flypast by the period planes was something you don’t see everyday; the last plane, a Lancaster, had it’s bomb hold filled with one million red poppies, which were release to float down over the watching crowds.