Jan 18

Sky and Timeshifting programmes

Sky is bar far the largest purveyor of DVR/time shifting services in the UK. A review of their service released last week shows that they have over 2 million boxes out there, with around 5million people using it – that’s around 8% of the UK population. As a long time user of TiVo, where the programme information is provided by Sky since TiVo left the UK market, I’m a big fan of time- (and place-) shifting when it comes to my entertainment. The time shifting numbers are show what areas are most popular – and there’s no surprise for me that drama is the most recorded and current affairs/news the least

* Drama is the genre of programming most frequently recorded by Sky+ customers, accounting for 39.3% of all time-shifted viewing. Other popular genres are documentaries (14.9%), entertainment (13.0%) and movies (9.5%). In contrast, some genres of content remain at their most popular when consumed live. News and weather account for just 0.6% of time-shifted viewing by Sky+ viewers, while current affairs programmes account for 1.2%. (Source: Sky View)
* These trends are reflected in the ranking of channels whose programming is subject to most time-shifting by Sky+ viewers:
1. FX 33.1% of viewing is time-shifted (01/02/06-20/12/06)
2. More 4 27.7%
3. Hallmark 24.8%
4. Living TV 23.3%
5. ITV3 23.1%
* Across all channels, time-shifting accounts for an average of 12.2% of total viewing through Sky+ boxes. (01/02/06-20/12/06)

Last weekend I volunteered to have a tivoless weekend as an experiment for weekend. Withdrawal symptoms set in quickly just from the thought of not using, even if I didn’t want to use it there and then. A bad weekend – definitely confirms I won;t go back.

Jan 17

Geni – a living family tree

Geni, a new venture from ‘former executives and early employees of PayPal, Yahoo! Groups, Ebay, and Tribe’ is a different take on social networks, using the hook of family history and genealogy to get users and connect people. But where it falls down with me is that it is focuses on living people; it’s not a family tree as more of a family sprawl, reaching horizontally across people instead of the vertical descent that most family historians investigate. And it’d run to a stop in many families when it hots the people with no email address and no computers.

Looking at the screen shots, I love the interface design. I’d love to be able to use it to display my family history; I’d even pay for it, given how much money I’ve already spent on the hobby, jsut to have a better web experience than the one I’m currently using which is plain, old html tables. But as it stands, it holds no interest for me. But given the experience of the people behind it, it could have some legs.

Jan 17

Luck of Seven

Noel Hidalgo is trying something different with Luck of Seven.

on the luck of seven is an open-source, around the world project by noel hidalgo (aka noneck). for seven months, he will visit the seven continents, sail the seven seas, and visit the seven ancient wonders of the world. Using a wiki, noneck will harness the collective knowledge of the globe, and report weekly on seven topics of freedom. Before he leaves, he is fundraising US$11.11 from 700 global residents.

An interesting project; track the success though the blog and wiki, join the Flickr Group and go and donate.

Jan 15

Slingbox working

My dad’s finally got the router working at home and now I can log into the Slingbox and Tivo to watch and record Uk programmes. I love technology at times 😉

Jan 12

Searching for fractured neck symptoms

It looks like I’m currently the top search result on Google for ‘how do you know if you have a fractured neck’. I hope the person who came to my site after using that term ended up going to the doctor and getting an X-ray!

Dec 22

Five Things You Don’t Know Meme

Round and round the meme goes. Five Things you don’t know about me. SoloSEO has done a good job of tracking the initial spread of this. And now Tom has tagged me. So let’s see.

1. I’ve been knocked out twice in life. The first time was playing rugby at school and I hit the ground a little too hard. The second time was a little more serious, I came off a horse. Not too sure what happened but if the bruises were anything to go by I got well trodden on; the worst was fractured neck vertebrae which still give me trouble today.

2. My first computer was a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. My sister and I played games and learnt how to code in Basic. Which was the last time I touched code for 15 years until I learnt Smalltalk as part of an OU course.

3. I was quite sporty at school. My poor parents did a lot of ferrying around – I recall playing 5 different hockey games one weekend. I represented the county at hockey and also played basketball and tennis for the school.

4. I’m a qualified rowing coach. I started off as a cox and then decided it was far better to be in a launch with motor engine.

5. I collect teddy bears. Little cute ones. Here’s my latest.

IMG_5360

Time to pass it along. I tag: Rachel, Lloyd, Lee, Ewan and Rick. From looking at the blogs, they’ve not answered this yet – but they could just be ignoring it.

Dec 18

Joined Twitter

I’ve gone and joined Twitter; it’s called peer pressure, all my friends are doing it so why shan’t I. And it’s strangely fascinating in an old school reality show way. That’s the old school like Castaway or the Edwardian house, not Survivor or Big Brother. Where it was more a challenge documentary rather than a weird way to fame.

So Twitter gives you a way to stalk your friends, to find out what they are doing in a different way to blogging; with only 145 characters per message it gives a more stream of thought insight into other peoples lives. Join and share the fascination.

Dec 17

Connectors and adapters

I’m trying to find some way to plug the various entertainment bits and pieces I have together without spending a fortune on replacing everything. But so far no luck. I have a PC with a VGA output but a TV with a choice of HDMI, SVideo, combination or composite inputs. And I have a UK PS2 which has a power upstepper but still needs to do PAL to NTSC conversion. And if I can’t get neither of those to work I’m going to have to get a multi-regional DVD player. Which does not seem to exist in the US as far as I’ve seen to date. I’m sure I could get them all working together somehow but at the moment, I just feel the need for a nice black box that just appears and does everything for me, or a gadget geek to go out and get everything and then plug it all in.

Dec 17

Post 1000

After just over 2 years on this blog, I’ve reached post 1000, (a number with significance only if you count in base 10.) I’ve moved from the tentative steps of working out why I was blogging to a changed mindset where things I read and hear about are put through a mental filter of ‘can I write about this’. Sometimes it’s to explore the idea further, othertimes just to keep a record of it. The last two weeks have been interesting, no blog to write on but lots of things piling up to be written about. But it’s also given me a chance to assess what i write about, whether it’s reaction in the echo chamber or new stuff.

I’ve not made any money THROUGH the blog – there’s no ads. The driver was not money but expression. But I’ve done well BECAUSE of the blog. In fact, blogging has completely changed my life. By reading and then writing I’ve had glimpses into the lives of many others, entered a continuous learning environment where there is new information every day. Went to some conferences. Met a lot of new people and made new friends. And all of this triggered self-reflection about what I was doing and whether I was getting what I wanted from it.

So I quit my job, after spending 14 years with the same company. And tried a couple of things but have now ended up in New York, working in a new job and a new industry which (on paper at least) have little in common with my previous role but a lot to do with the knowledge I have built up through blogging. New York is a place I tried to get my previous employee to send me for a while (I was in a global company, in a global role and almost everyone I worked with on projects was in the US). It didn’t happen then but it has now – and now to make the most of it.

So I carry on through the 1000 posts and few years and see where I am then. One thing that will change about this blog is that some of the marketing posts will appear over on a new blog, Behind the Buzz, which I’m going to be writing for b5media. It’s not styled up yet, still work to be done on that, but I am posting away. So I’m finally getting some money for blogging ;-). I’ll be pointing over there for some of the stuff, whilst this one will continue with the rest. So, back to the blogging.

Nov 30

MIT Open Courseware

I’m a fan of continued education.   I’ve carried on learning formally though the OU for many years.  But the OU courses available in the US are few so I’ve been looking around for something else.   Many of the available courses in New York that would feasibly fit into my schedule are the more practical or job related ones, not necessarily something that I was interested in doing – I just like learning.  So I was thrilled to stumble upon MIT’s Open Courseware, which is a publication of nearly all of their undergraduate course work, from reading lists, lecture notes, essay requirements and answers.  A wonderful way to work your way through areas that interest you.  In my case, I think I’m going to update my Biology and Anthropology (my original degree) and take a look at Psychology, Comparative Media studies, History, Linguistics and Technology.  Of course, that’s the plan – I just need to organise my life to have the time to do it.

Nov 30

Bar Community Marketing

The bar over the road from me has a wonderful Word of Mouth scheme for getting new customers.   Every Thursday, it opens up the bartending role to guests – that is, anyone who wants to have a go.   The only catch – you have to bring in your friends.

There’s a big sign up behind the bar, advertising Guest nights and suggesting you ask about it.  The deal – if you want to have a go at being a bartender for the night, here’s your chance but you need to advertise it and bring in your friends to make it a fun night.   There’s a 6-8 week waiting list at any one time, so there’s definitely a market.   As the barkeep, you get to share in the tips – which means the regular workers need you to make a success of it!

They ask you to bring in about 40 friends, with the expectation that 20 will be the average.  But of those 20, they expect 4-5 to come back and carry on using the bar.   So despite the barkeeps potential dislike of the actual evenings (they usually take home less money) in the long run, it is far more profitable and keeps a steady stream of new customers coming in to the place.   I was told that the average lifespan of a bar on the UES is 2-3 years.  This one has been there 13 years.  So if you are in the area, go visit the Trinity Bar

Nov 27

Shrinking Household

I’m sitting here trying to keep out the way of the movers who are slowly packing up all my stuff (feeling guilty, I just make them tea every hour or so).    My working space gets barer and barer; the desktop PC has gone, the desk (or what passes for one) has gone and the next thing they are after is the couch so it’s to the floor with me.   Sometime in the future, it’ll all be unwrapped again.   The cleaners have come round to estimate a fortune to clean the whole place and the letting agents have the keys to start showing people (I hope..need to cover the mortgage somehow!).    I’m down to three suitcases and excess baggage charges 😉

Nov 25

Packing Choices

Today, I’m preparing to pack, the movers arrive on Monday to take everything away and put some of it on a boat that will hopfully arrive in New York in about 2 months.   Unlike the last time I did this, moving to and from Amsterdam, a lot of the stuff will be put into storage.  So I’m going round and putting things onto 3 lists, store, ship and take with me know.   But the choices are not that simple.   I’m not shipping my furniture, so the big items go direct to store.    The electrical items likewise get stored as they will not work without voltage changers, so it’s probably best to buy new ones.   I’m not taking all my kitchen stuff – which probably means I can live without it, likewise the paperwork/records/OU study stuff/diving equipment wetc.  In reality I should probably get rid of it…and maybe I will when I come back.   Likewise with the books I’m trying to convince myself to leave behind.  I don’t really need to ship all 1200 of them, so I need to make choices about which ones I use a lot, which I will read in the next few years and which can wait till I come back (by which time the number would have grown anyway.

Some stuff I’m taking back with me now (travelling with empty suitcases definitely confuses people at airports).  Extra cutlery, plates, saucepan, Christmas decorations, winter clothes.   And a final few things I decide that I won’t risk to shipping – some jewellery, a favourite picture, a book of favourite poems I’ve transcribed over the last 25 years.

One last thing I’m doping is taking photos of everything.   It’s far quicker to photo the titles of the games, CDs, DVDs and books and load them up to Flickr as a storage mechanism then write down everything, just in case.   It’s a good job that I can set the photos to me only, otherwise people would be subject to 10’s of photos of nothing but book spines.

Nov 21

Some recommendations

From my trip to Boston at the weekend I would recommend The Gryphon House Bed And Breakfast, in Back Bay. Friendly staff, lovely rooms, nice breakfasts. It’s not in downtown but the subway station is just round the corner and from my perspective the MIT campus was in easy walking distance. And if you are interested in baseball, the RedSox stadium is practically next door.

Another recommendation would be Joanne Wong of citi-habitats.com, now moved to City Connections and reached on 917-535-2006 a New York real estate broker, who managed to find me a half dozen places to see at a few days notice that met my requirements and included landlords who did not mind the lack of a US credit history, walked me through the letting process and kept it all simple for me. Following up with a card and a voucher for a department store was just icing on the cake.

Nov 16

Post Conference Questionaires

Do you know those post conference requests to tell them how they did?  The ones that end up in the back of the packs or get emailed out.  Sometimes it’s worth filling them in.   Following the IAB day I went to a few weeks back, I filled in their questionnaire and it turned out I was the lucky person who got drawn out of the metaphorical hat (does anyone ever use a hat to do this anymore?) to get the prize of an iPod Nano.  Nice!

Nov 13

Connected

Yea!  Finally got web connection from home but only at a poor 2MB or there abouts, I feel so sloooowwww again after the 8 in the UK.  No blogging done, but plenty of TV programmes watched.

Nov 09

Perils of International Banking

In the US, I’ve mainly been living in a cash world.   I have a credit card, but I keep it for big purchases, never using it for day to day stuff.    My debit card expires the end of this month and I’d arranged for one to be sent out earlier so I could guarantee getting it at home at a time I was actually there.   What they forgot to tell me is that in doing that they would cancel my current card.   So here I am, stuck in New York with no way of actually getting any cash for the day to day stuff.  There are ways round it, but they just take far more effort.  I could get some money transferred to my newly opened US account (they gave me 2 for the price of one and were very keen to give me lots of cheques) but I need to send a letter to the UK and then wait for the money to come back, so it would take 6-7 days.   Time to go move money between accounts to ensure I actually have credit, can pay for a plane journey and get some cash out so I can buy food and stuff.