Feb 14

Women in Technology

I;ve read two great posts this week on Women in Technology.http://giagia.blogspot.com/2006/02/modelling-or-whoring-atoms-one-thing.html

The first, from Gia, addresses her feelings after watching Anina at Lift06. She was not impressed, feeling that Anina was there because of being a model:

I’m genuinely glad that Anina is excited about “technology”, but can’t we as people who are involved with moulding the future perhaps concentrate on women who are doing really cool stuff for geeks- not just because they are women, but cos they are simply doing cool stuff?

Tara rephrases the question “So, why aren’t there more women in technology? Or…to rephrase it…why aren’t there more prominent women in technology?” The question is not answered, but good challenges made about perceptions of women in geek space.

Feb 02

Wiki Wednesday

Last night I wandered along to Wiki Wednesday, where Ross dropped in on his way back from Helsinki. This was a focused gathering, so I think most people had a chance to to talk to everyone there. There’s definitely a group of people I keep bumping into at these type of sessions, like Sarah and Ian. Some new people to me were Tom and Julian . One of the topics was the stabilisation and productionisation of wiki software – making the installation a lot easier and making the use of them far more WYSIWYG. I’ve shown wikis to people at work who just ‘use’ computers, use Word etc and there is always a reluctance to edit, to attempt to use the required syntax to do formatting. If that can be made a lot simpler, then some of the behavioural change will be easier. Another set of conversations were about geting people to use systems like wikis internally, what sort of information could you seed the idea with. A favourite was definitely the lunchtime menus – one story was about the use of a webcam so that people could see the queue to get food. Another favourite would be information about benefit policies. These strategies are targeted at company wide initiatives, where the whole intranet would change, not at providing information solutions for smaller teams. However, whatever the trigger, the technology is often the easy part – finding ways to provide a solution that people will believe will make their lives better enough to get them to use it is always the hard part.

Jan 11

Sky Broadband

I wonder what the business reason is for not allowing extra subscribers to Sky Broadband. But I’d more than likely sign up to a subscriber system to download movies. I rent them at the moment from Amazon; it’d be so much easier just to download instread of having to post DVDs all the time. But instead I have to sign up for a package over £30…but I can’t where I live so this is out of the question for me.

This is DRMed to death, in that you only have a limited number of days (30) to watch the movies. But that’s not much different from the rental system I use – i have to return the discs. So in this case, letting me subscribe as a rental system (instead of locking me into a subscription that makes me sign up for things I don’t want) is a way Sky could get money from me when currently they make nothing.

Jan 11

New Phone

I’ve bought me a new phone. Apart from a short lived pay-as-you-go phone in Amsterdam back in 2000, this is the first phone I have actually gone and chosen. Up until now, work has provided a phone and paying the bills. As I’m not going to have that in the future, it was time to go and get my own.

But it’s a shock to the system. I’ve being using a Nokia 6310i; as a phone it works great. But that’s all I ever really used it for, a triband phone plus texts. I stretched the use of it to include alarm clock and stopwatch but the WAP/GPRS etc were never enabled on it.

Now I have an 6680 Smartphone. It’s got colour! ( a small thing I know, but having had grey tone for so many years, the initial impact is the colour screen). But I have web, email, calendar, camera, video phoning, and lots more stuff I’ve not touched yet. I’ve even got TV. Buying through Vodaphone gives me their Live service and this month they have free Sky Mobile TV. Despite having entertainment channels, the programming is not the same as their satellite equivalents (I guess this is a rights issue) but you can get the news live. It is missing the one essential thing a TV needs though – a little tiny remote control ;o) The phone uses RealPlayer to manages the video stream and so far performance has been great.

Dec 22

Women in Technology buy technology

A survey conducted by Women in Technology of around 1200 current and former members of the WiT group found that they like buying technology and gadgets for Christmas presents. The top 10 were:

(1) Digital Camera,
(2) iPod,
(3) iPod Accessories,
(4) Laptop Computer,
(5) HDTV,
(6) Videogame Console,
(7) Camera Phone,
(8) Desktop Computer,
(9) Smartphone
(10) Handheld Videogame Player.

The survey is picked up by the BBC here. They pick up the point about women being the silent influencer behind many joint purchases.

Women are the silent majority when it comes to influencing and making consumer electronics purchases.

They influence around 80% of consumer electronics purchases, according to figures from manufacturers and trade groups such as the Consumer Electronics Association.

But until recently the industry did not pay attention to this.

And we can see the changes from the consumer electronics industry – a colleague at work has a pink phone which appears to make a feature of having a biorythm tracker. But the women’s market does not just mean colouring everything pink; designing smaller and lighter goods can be important (just look at Maryam‘s experience with a new laptop) but also lowering the entry barriers – reduce the fiddleliness in setting things up. That’s a complaint I’ve heard from friends – too many things needed to get things working, it’s not just turn on and go. Although I have to admit given I’ve seen many men just turn on the stuff and never even attempt to read manuals I’m surprised that it is being bought up as a need for designing for women ;o)

Anyway, back to list. I’d go with the HDTV as first choice for me – and I’ll definitely have to be buying it myself. But why was anyone surprised that women who work with technology buy technology?

Dec 22

Station Freebie

At Waterloo this morning there was a scrummage around the small team that were handing out free gifts. Joining in, I found that BT were giving away headsets, promoting their VOIP system, BT Communicator. Useful in that you can easily make calls to phones far cheaper than using the ‘landline’ and then it all comes in on one bill. They’re pushing it pretty heavily this Christmas, with a Christmas offer of free calls to 30 countries No mention of other products though ;o)

One set of people who did not seem pleased about the free offer were the station cleaners. The headsets came in largish boxes, which were left scattered around the elevators and were being rapidly cleaned up by a squad of 3.

Dec 20

Choosing a phone

Somewhere out there, there has to be a website that offers exactly what I am after. Let me put in a list of requirements and it’ll give me a list of phones that have those features. I’m pretty sure that Nokia once had something like this, but now you can only compare phones for a couple of features at once. I don’t have time to trawl through lots of pages full of lists of features, not do I particularly want to go into a shop and face the sales guys without having a little understanding first. Too, too frustrating. Well, back to the review sites.

Dec 18

Technological awards

The Times does end of year ‘awards’ about technology-related things that it believes has bought in changes this year, including:

  • timeshifting music – podcasting
  • Artic Monkeys – the band that got to No 1 through downloads and word of mouth
  • timeshifting TV, making TV schedulers redundant
  • ‘citizen jounalism’ though ubiquitous cameraphones
  • Mark Russinovich, for ‘idling through his computer’s nether regions’ and finding Sony’s rootkit
  • RSS for improvong web delivery

    Blogs don’t get an award, not for a lack of revolution but because they are as core to a number of other things, such as providing a tool to support free speech in many countries

Dec 10

Riya Recognition

One of the good people I met in Paris was Tara Hunt, who is working with Ojos on Riya, a face recognition programme. This got some love from The Times on Wednesday. In conversation it was good to see that the company is trying to address privacy concerns, in that I may not want photos with myself in tagged with my identity. It was interesting to hear that many of the concerns that the company had received were from Europe, indicating a different perception of privacy.

Nov 30

Swedish Beers

Last night I went along to Swedish Beers, a networking event for peopel involved in mobile marketing. Sponsorship was ably organised by Helen Keegan , giving more than a few rounds of drinks for the attendees. I think there were around 30 people there, all heavily discussing hte various aspects of mobile marketing.

Nov 26


I got a nice surprise at work this week – I got given an iPod shuffle. I did actually have to do some work for it; I was an advisor on a project in an area I would not normally be working in and the was a thankyou. I’ve not really got on with iPods in the past, with the screens and the touch wheels, but as this one does not have a screen and really just plays it’s proving very easy. First of all I had to download iTunes, but was quickly loading music – as it politely came ready charged I was soon away. Will it replace my Zen PMC – probably not but it’s a good addition. And it can always act as an addtional flash drive!

Nov 17

Sony Recalls CDs

Maybe it’s the dark nights in the Northern Hemisphere, but the volume of posts coming through the aggregator over the last few weeks feels huge; overnight there can be an extra 500 or so unread to read. So I don’t…or rather I read some and skim others.
P2P network closes. A US university P2P network, set up specifically to facilitate sharing of books and research papers, has closed due to pressure from entertainment industry. The network was also used to share otherkinds of files (music and movies) which has the potential to bring downthbe wrath of the entertainment industry. Maybe they were just trying to avoid crippling their property with Sony rootkits? Which I see that Sonyhavefinally decided to recall the CDs that were deliberately infected with the malformed code.

Dan Kaminsky’s research into the scale of the infection, looking at how many of the net’s nameservers have seen requests to the phone-home part of the code, gives an indication that more than half a million networks have got the root kit on them. He’s mapped the numbers; for a set of CDs that were only released in the US, the spread in other parts of the world (here’s Europe) demonstrates how the sale of ‘legitimate’ music sources also ignores borders.

Nov 10

PC Woes

I thought there was a problem, but my PC desktop has given up the ghost before I got to fix it. It’s decided that it no longer has an MBR and just sits there sulking, asking to find something to give it a kick…time to find someone to fix the thing.

Nov 09


Great to see that the BBC will be trialling HDTV. It will be available in certain satellite and cable areas, plsu terrestrial in London. The intention is to have all free to air digital programmes as HDTV by 2010. This could be my trigger to buy a new set at some time.

Nov 03

Sony DRM and Rootkits

Over on Sysinternals, Mark Russinovich has done a superb piece of detective work into a rootkit that he had found on his machine. After a long investigation, he found that it had originated from a Sony music CD; there appeared to be no warning of this installation, nor anyway to remove the software. Using standard removal techniques, it ended up crippling the CD player on the PC.

Within the comments, there are listings of various computer misuse legislation that Sony may have broken by surrepticiously installing such sotware. There is also further detective work, as the software is discovered to make calls to Sony with identification.

Yesterday, Sony provided removal software: “This Service Pack removes the cloaking technology component that has been recently discussed in a number of articles published regarding the XCP Technology used on SONY BMG content protected CDs. This component is not malicious and does not compromise security. However to alleviate any concerns that users may have about the program posing potential security vulnerabilities, this update has been released to enable users to remove this component from their computers.”

At least they were listening and put up a fix…pity they had to installed the equivalent of malware in the first place though.

Update: the Sony software is only decloakimg software so the files are no longer hodden. It does not remove the rootkit.

Nov 02

Microsoft OfficeLive

One of the other things announced yesterday by Microsoft was OfficeLive. This is still in development with it going into beta (to US residents only) in early 2006.

Looking at the domains, live.com was first registered in 1994. I wonder how much Microsoft paid for it?

Oct 31

Blackberry Women and Technology Awards

There’s a definite theme to today’s posts. In a far more serious vein, the Blackberry Women and Technology Awards were announced last week. The overall winner, Jackie Edwards, is a lecturer at De Montfort University and her award was focused on her work in opening up technology to other women through a Women’s Access to Information Technology course. In 2005, only 21% of the IT workforce was female (via silicon.com), a reduction since 1997 as “work-life balance, ‘old-boys’ male-dominated environment and industry culture are the core reasons why the IT sector is unattractive to women”. Although in my company, the department I work in would be regarded as technical my many, it is not really, we just work with people who work with technology; that could be the reason why we have a 50/50 ratio.

Oct 31

Smashing Ipods

Via Engadget, a group of guys requested donations in order to buy an iPod and then proceed to smash the gadget instore. The video of the act can be found on their site smashmyipod.com. Pity they’re in Canada instead of the UK; they could have called it a protest against capatalism or DRM or something and entered it into the Turner Prize. Which, by the way, has podcasts for you to download, with the artist and the judges commenting on the works. It also allows you to submit your own ‘casts about the pieces and these may be put up.