Apr 02

Sierra and Locke update

Last week there were a lot of words written about the threats made to Kathy Sierra and her reaction to them. Unfortunately many of the word accused people behind the offending sites before allowing them to put their side of the story and they were subject to some of the same kind of behaviour, the mob mentality hiding behind an internet persona, that Kathy had complained about in the first place. But over the week, things have been looked at, more information discovered and today we have something that seemed unlikely a week ago. Kathy and Chris Locke jointly present statements after multiple conversations over the week and a CNN interview that aired today. Read both statements, but here are some key quotes for me. First from Kathy:

I do believe that Chris, Jeneane, and Frank did not make the specific posts and images that I found threatening, and I believe they were not responsible for the threatening comments on my own blog. However, Chris and I (and others) still strongly disagree about whether people who are respected and trusted in our industry (like the three of them) are giving tacit approval when they support (though ownership, authoring, and promoting) sites like meankids and unclebob. This is about trust and leadership in our community, and whether those who are looked up to have a (non-legal) responsibility to the community whose trust they’ve earned for the things they promote.

From Chris:

It’s true we laughed, but not at the core issues. No one was laughing about the offensive words and images that were posted to the blogs I was involved with. The material Kathy quoted on her site was hurtful and ugly. I do not excuse it or think it should be excused. Some of the things that were posted about her were admittedly frightening, and far beyond tasteless….
Misogyny is real — and vile. Violence against women is wrong. It must not be tolerated. This issue should be explored and discussed, not swept under the rug, not rationalized away

And both agree that this episode should not be used to as an excuse to curb free speech, to shutter the thoughts and expressions of millions online through legislation and ordered control but should be used a further open up the debate about behaviours and ethics and morals about what you should do online, not just doing things because you can. The fact that these two people, who were at the core of the storm that surrounding this issue, can talk and agree on some things whilst acknowledging where they disagree give me hope.

Mar 29

Blogger Samples

Tonight at the Problogger meetup, I met up with Keith, from vibrator.com (do you need a warning that that link is NSFW?) As an e-commerce site, it is very web2.0; there’s a pretty good blog, all the right prompts to delicious, digg, technorati etc and the UGC competition – submit your own erotic story.

Furthermore Keith is quite happy for bloggers to get samples to test and blog about – and I’m pretty sure he won’t need them back 😉 Considering the other blog is called Behind the Buzz, that could be something to think about!

Mar 26

The Ugly side of the web

I’ve been following this for the last few hours and just getting angrier and angrier. Kathy Sierra, one of the best, brightest and most compassionate bloggers that I read, has been receiving death threats and just sheer, unadulterated, vicious, abusive behaviour from other people through comments and blog posts. Kathy’s post points at some people who are allegedly involved, but we need to wait until it clears up and confirmed who is involved, as identities can be misused.

What the fuck is going on? Why does this happen again and again. The only people I know (in real life or virtually) who have been threatened and stalked have been women. What insecure, small mindedness, misogynistic behaviour takes over people to do things like this. Over 50% of the blogosphere are women, yet we continually get the refrain that they are not A-list, that they are not speaking at conferences. This is why. Put yourself out there, show that there is no difference and you get the anger and vitriol poring out from people who think they are better just because they have a Y chromosome. I’ve seen this again and again, from comments on videos we have put out there as a marketing campaign, from reading comments in the cesspit that YouTube and other sites can become; others have seen it as well. It’s said that the web is self-correcting, that it routes around trouble. But I rarely see it doing that with this type of behaviour. The big sites need to stand up to this. put a stake in the ground and ban it; give the tools to the content producers to stop it. The law needs to support this stance and prosecute as far as they can. In the UK, it is difficult to prosecute unless they ave done something; it may be too late by then. It needs to change. It can not be tolerated. I sit here contemplating getting out there more, looking for more opportunities to speak after last week, but this makes me think again. Makes me think I should just draw back into my shell and not do it. And that is so wrong, should not be happening. My thoughts are with Kathy, and with the others who seem to be caught in this maelstrom of hatred and jealousy and hope and pray it works out well.

Update: After doing more more reading, I think I want to clarify that my rant above is about the general attitude that is common. It’s about expected behaviour, not legal allowances. I believe in free speech – even if we (UK) do not have the same ‘right’ that the US laws allows – but just because it can be said does not mean it should be. And moving beyond ‘meanness’ to threats does break US laws. Whatever the outcome of this particular situation, it’s going to be a long time and a hard battle before the attitude in general clears up.

Mar 19

Dinner with Ewan Spence

Ewan Spence is visiting New York for the next few days, so Eric and I thought we’d see if anyone wants to meet up and grab dinner. Tomorrow evening, Two Boots pizza, Grand Central food court, 7.30pm. We’ll be easy to spot, Ewan’ll have a kilt on!

Mar 14

Business PCs

After 5 days at SXSW, surrounded by a sea of Macs, the Continental lounge at Austin Airport is different beast…full of PCs, primarily IBMs This is obviously a business clientel, not conference goers.

Mar 11

SXSW – Day 2

Day 2 of the joy that is SXSW. Being sensible with the parties last night means I feel pretty good this morning, even with the loss of an hour through daylight saving. I learnt yesterday that one should not wear a Google shirt – I kept being asked if I worked in the new building, being chatted to by people who interned with them etc. It was bit weird. More later.

Mar 10

Barcamp hanging

instead of going to sessions this afternoon I’m hanging out at barcamp, listening to some great talks (even over the talking) and sipping iced drinks in the sun. lovely.

Mar 09

Arrived in Austin

Finally arrived in Austin after a slightly delayed flight but nothing too bad. it’s lovely and warm here, the sun is out, a far different climate after cold New York. Checked in, got my badge and met up with Ewan in the line 🙂 One nice meal later, and the odd marguerita, decided to catch up with things before plunging into the madness that is this conference.

Mar 08

Too much to blog, too little time

I’ve got the last NextNY session to write up, everything from the PSFK conference on Tuesday and off to SXSW tomorrow. I feel like I’m not going to catch up. Expect variable blogging over the next week.

Feb 27

Mutual Support Group

I’ve been reading Jason Calacanis’s fatblogging drive and thought about it but it was not quite enough. Then I read Jeremy’s post on the subject and the topic on the B5Media message board which led me to traineo; looking at that app, witht he support and community aspects was enough to tip me over the edge into action. So I’ve signed up on the site, got a motivator to bug me (that’s my sister) and joined the b5media support group that has been set up.

The site is not perfect, but is has some lovely features.


  • record your weight (in metric or imperial)
  • record your exercise, with estimated calories burnt. There’s some debate over the accuracy of the results, but if you use it consistently it gives trends. It only allows you to choose from a list of activities, which range from walking to aerobics to sex to childcare.
  • track your daily calorie consumption, although you’ll need a spreadsheet or other app to record what you eat as this records only the total
  • create your own log of whatever you need

That’s the data recording, so what about the social aspects?

  • You can pick up to 5 motivators, who get weekly emails of your activity and comments and are encouraged to support you
  • the forums give you access to the wider community, with plenty of advice and support
  • create your own group and invite likeminded people
  • join other groups of common interest, for example there is one dedicated to the Wii

As well as this, I’ve sorted out the gym membership and started walking a lot more. Time for more action.

Feb 27

Venue Sought

We, (Eric and I) are trying to find a venue in New York to run some geek dinners…at least one of which will feature Ian Forrester and we’ve got some interesting people lined up for others. Looking for somewhere which has a private room (up to about 50 to start with we think), serves alcohol, can provide buffet type food and has a PA set up, or space for one. If you’ve been to the London Geek Dinners you’ll know the form. Mingle, east a few snacks and see a short talk with Q&As. If anyone can point me in a good direction, please let me know.

Feb 20

Don’t forget the pancakes on Jif Lemon Day

An example of a ad slogan that got into my brain years ago and has never left. But today, there’s almost nothing ‘official’ on the web about this, the only bit being on Unilever’s corporate site; so you just have to look up everyone talking about the day and not the company – or complaining that the company have not put out any adverts to remind them! There’s a nice little analysis of the meme on IanVisits, so not going to repeat it.

It’s Shrove Tuesday, time to break out the eggs, flour and milk and whip up a batch of nice, thin pancakes to go with the lemon and sugar.

Feb 20

Mac bought

I’ve finally gone and bought a Macbook. Not yet got it up and running (won’t connect to the web) but I’ll have more time to sort this out this week.


Feb 13

Meta Comments

Anyone else finding it bizarre that the spammers have now gone meta and are telling me that spam sucks and to delete it? Akismet is doing a great job of capturing it all, but I just find it funny.

Feb 08

Beer Goggles

I love this BBC article about the scientific explanation for Beer Goggles. The study, from University of Manchester, was sponsored by an eyeglass company Bausch and Lomb, I’d have thought that if they have a study released for PR, they may have at least put it on their site but nothing on the UK or US sites.

Nathan Efron, Professor of Clinical Optometry at the University of Manchester, said: “The beer goggles effect isn’t solely dependent on how much alcohol a person consumes, there are other influencing factors at play too.

“For example, someone with normal vision, who has consumed five pints of beer and views a person 1.5 metres away in a fairly smoky and poorly lit room, will score 55, which means they would suffer from a moderate beer goggle effect.”

Beer Goggles Equation

Where An is Alcohol consumed, d is distance, S is smokiness, L is luminance and Vo is visual acuity.

Putting all of this together, you should be able to calculate at what point the beer goggle effect kicks in; at which point you are probably too drunk to care 😉

Feb 06

Employment Laws

Reading this long comment thread on Slashdot about a guy who is being sued by a company for resigning bought home the huge difference in employment law in different countries. the stories of just walking out, of keeping journals of everything that goes wrong to use in ammunition, to tales of what people can do if left around the company after handing in notice.

Jan 31

Movers arrived

The next few hours are going to be interesting. I apparently sent 43 boxes to the US and they are being delivered and unpacked as we speak. I’m trying to stay out of the way.

Jan 30

Waiting in Chicago

I’m sitting here in Chicago after travelling here at the last minute, only to have arrived and find that the meeting I’m here for has been cancelled. Whist waiting to see of something else is being organised I’ve managed to find a desk at our local office. Of course, without the work PC little work can be done. At least there is webmail that sort of works. It’s a pity I made a conscious decision not to bring my camera this morning, otherwise I could have been out and about snapping away.