Jan 19

European domains

After seeing the sale of sex.com, I thoght I’d take a look at who was up for sex.eu. In the first 10 minutes after applications opened, 131 requests Although many appear to be multiple requests from the same buyer through different registrars. They’re nearly all claiming prior right to the word as a national trademark.

Taking a look at the European trademarks, the word obviously means many different things across Europe. There are trademark registered or applied for under sex for:

  • Austria: online material
  • Germany: Indoor aquariums and covers for indoor aquariums and Toothbrushes, toothpicks, dental floss
  • Germany: Friction lighters for igniting gas; gas lighters; lighters.
  • Germany: Perfumery, essential oils, cosmetics, hair lotions, soaps, dentifrices
  • Germany: Tobacco; smoker’s articles

There’s another 40 trademarks in the EU with the word in it…this must be one of the weirdest – SEX WAX .MR. ZOGS.THE BEST FOR YOUR STICK – which does actually appear to be surfboard wax.

Jan 15


Standing Guard

Originally uploaded by RachelC.

The Chancellor Gordon Brown is trying to promote Britishness.

Britishness is a very artifical thing – there is not actually a country called Britain, Although we’ve shared a monarchy since 1603, it was not until 1707 that Scotland formally joined England and Wales in the Kingdom of Great Britain, where Great Britain was the name of the island. In 1800, Ireland got joined in, making the United Kingdon.

If I’m asked what country I’m from, I usually say the UK. But if asked what nationality I am, I say English. Brown wants a national day – but the countries in the UK already have their days, even if they are based on Saint days.

Brown wants to promote a national identity, to promote patriotism in a multi-cultural society. There’s a lot more needed to do this than promote one single national day.

Jan 15

Elvis Impersonator

Elvis Impersonator

Originally uploaded by RachelC.

I spent some time yesterday at the Russian New Year festival in Trafalgar Square. There were a few stalls, a couple of bars and a big stage. Various Russian acts performed; as a metal band came out and really rocked, this gey walked up, took off the coat and started dancing. The buckle was labelled Elvis, the shirt was very flowery and the wig was very, very obvious, but stuck on well, not moving as he danced to act after act. He was still there a few hours later. A pleasant way to spend a few hours.

Jan 10

DRM Stuff

Shelley Powers has started a must-read thread on DRM, the agruments for and against. Personally, I’m in favour of looking for business models that reduce DRM. Having lost a number of albums due to a hard drive failure, the only way to get them back at the moment seems to be to repurchase. I’ve bought them once, why should I do it again?

e=books are another area that are are impacted by DRM. Sony announced a new Reader at CES which tried to make the experience closer to reading the real thing. If the content was there, I’d buy something like this. I buy a large number of books. Some are keepers; I’ll buy reference books or certain authors in hardback. But a lot of the books I buy are more disposable; they’re thrillers or holiday books, books that will go to be recycled or to the charity shops because of space limitations. They’re often bought before travelling. These are the ones that I’d buy for a reader. But the content needs to be standardised and accessible, like mp3 not AAC. I don’t want to have to have many different readers because the tech compnies do deals with the publishing companies. I’d want the content available in the same place as the rest of the books as well (these 3 for 2 deals usually end up with me adding an additional one I would not have bought on its own). But a while before we get there – we need both the readers and the content to improve.

On a lighter note, Hugh has 10 Blogger lies, illustrating the gap between perception and reality. No DRM mentioned there.

Jan 06

Eric Shmidt on the BBC

The BBC have just shown an ‘exclusive’ interview, on the main nightly news,with Eric Schmidt of Google promoting the new video service they are going to announce in 2 hours time at CES. It’ll probably follow on their website soon.

Jan 06

Snippets 6th Jan

Yahoo! are running a poll to find the most popular find of 2005. There are serious categories: Community has things like the Can Do Exchange to share skills and knowledge; Educational looks at things like the Mars Rover site But the papers (or at least the Metro) are covering the wilder side, the weird and wacky ones. Two sites that do exactly what they say on the tin are Stuff on my Cat and Punch a Celebrity. Vote for your favourites.

Tools to analyse what bloggers are saying continue to be delivered. Opinmind allows you to add a term and see the balance between positive and negative comments.

Following on from her tips on how to survive a geek dinner, Maryam now lists great reasons for dating a geek; see the comments for the reasons with a twist as well. One of the key ones is they can fix your computer. I can fully understand that one…I’ve finally got my desktop back up and running after the hard drive went kaput, only after a lot of hours put in by some geek friends.

Microsoft have released a critical patch for the WMF exploit earlier than planned, “in response to strong customer sentiment that the release should be made available as soon as possible.” Microsoft being reponsive to lots of feedback instead of waiting for the monthly update slot they were going to use. Don’t forget to uininstall the unoffical patch if you used it.

Having just downloaded the beta for Messenger 8 – or do I have to call it Windows Live Messenger – I was surprised to find I had to agree to T&Cs twice; once before downloading and the second on installing. But signing them twice does not reduce the impact of the default settings…not really taken by the orange and grey combination.


Jan 03

Viral Marketing – or Spam

Update: Goowy responded to this very quickly, commenting on the various posts, changing their sign up and posting an apology on their blog. They’ve recognsied the problem and corrected it; It was still a fundamental mistake to make in the first place though.

Marketeers love the concept of viral marketing. Brand teams and agencies talk about getting websites and ads to ‘go viral’: ‘how can we make this go viral, what do we do to make it spread’ is a very common question. Many think there’s a magic set of circumstances that will guarantee the success of a campaign. There’s a lot of things that can be used to encourage concepts to spread, with seeding in appropriate places, using buzz agents, getting press in a variety of ways to just get enough critical mass to hopefully start the snowball and get all these people talking about the ad/site and therefore the product. Great marketing for a lesser spend – get advocates to do the work for you.

But there’s a commonality that I see – the ‘product’ (marketing material or some other kind of stuff that everyone spreads) has to offer something to the person spreading the word. Marketing has to be good – has to strike a chord, get people involved, make people happy to share with their friends. If you share something, you’re putting your reputation on the line, not the creative agency’s.

But virality cuts both ways – do something monumentally stupid and that will spread as well. Sony learnt that to their cost. And goowy are doing their best to to get there.

Goowy is a “rich experience site which helps you manage your digital lifestyle” according to their homepage. Someone in that organisation had obviously heard of the concept of viral marketing. Great idea I can hear them saying – let’s build it in, let’s make it part of the product. As part of the sign up process, it offers you the option to import all your contacts from your email client. On the page, there’s an option to let your contact know about the service. And it’s checked as default. So if you don’t read everything really, really carefully then it will send an email to every single person in your contact list, with a recommendation to sign up. And some people will and miss the tick box again, spreading the spam. Adriana got caught like this at an early hour this morning; there’s more comments from Ben, David, Barry who got caught in the fall out.

And it is spam – unsolicited and in most circumstances unlikely to be actually recommended by the person it seems to be from. It is such bad practice to have these options set to yes; opt-out is not the way to do it. Even opt-in in this case would be a poor choice – how many people in your address book do you actually know enough to recommend a service? Especially as you appear to be recommending something before you’ve tried it.

I wonder if one of their performance indicators is number of invites sent out and not just sign ups?

Reading their FAQs I find this interesting nugget – they’re addressing spam from their users so it appears that they may have had this question before (they’ve also never read Hormel foods position on the term spam). If I had no idea about email headers, I’d read this as telling me I should consider the emails I got this morning as someone else’s fault, not as a result of their shoddy marketing practices.

I received SPAM from one of your users. Make it stop!
In most cases, a message which you consider to be SPAM, even though addressed from a user@goowy.com is not actually sent from our servers. If the message is not sent from our servers, there is nothing that we can do to prevent this message from being sent. Any messages sent from our servers will have the following as one of the headers:
X-Mailer: goowy mail – http://www.goowy.com
Please note that this can be forged as well, but if this is not present, it was not sent from us. If this is present, please take a look at the received from header, and find the IP address in that header. If you find that we are registered owners of that IP address, please submit the complaint to us at abuse@goowy.com – otherwise, please submit it the abuse department of whatever organization is the registered owner of that particular IP address.

Dec 21

What not to do…

…if you’re running away from security guards after being suspected of being involved in a robbery. Do not, under any circumstances, climb into cage with an annoyed Bengal tiger. The odds of getting out alive are very low, as a this suspect found out.

A criminal suspect on the run ended up being mauled to death by a caged tiger, South African police say.
“The man was involved in a robbery and was chased by security guards,” police spokeswoman Elsa Gerber told the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

“He had nowhere else to go, so he jumped over the zoo fence,” she added.

The police said that the man had tried to escape after he had robbed a couple with a knife.

The tiger had apparently not tried to eat the body.

Nature conservation officials quoted by SABC said the tigers had been fed on Saturday afternoon and were therefore not hungry.

Dec 15

Encyclopediac Accuracy

The BBC are reporting a study looking at the accuracy of scientific articles on Wikipedia and the the Encyclopedia Britanica. In the articles examined, 8 serious errors were discovered, 4 in each of the sources.

In order to test its reliability, Nature conducted a peer review of scientific entries on Wikipedia and the well-established Encyclopedia Britannica.

The reviewers were asked to check for errors, but were not told about the source of the information.

“Only eight serious errors, such as misinterpretations of important concepts, were detected in the pairs of articles reviewed, four from each encyclopedia,” reported Nature.

“But reviewers also found many factual errors, omissions or misleading statements: 162 and 123 in Wikipedia and Britannica, respectively.”

By focusing on the more scientific articles they appear to have avoided some of the more editorial inaccuracies about people and more recent events.

Dec 03

Champagne and chips

Champagne and chips

Originally uploaded by RachelC.

Last night we had our team Christmas night out; early due to holiday commitments. The meal was not booked until late, so here’s the perfect start to the evening – champagne and a bowl of chips.

Later on we went to Floridits’s, a Cuban retaurant over in Wardour St. It was definititely one of the worst organised front of house I’d seen. There were queues just to get to talk to the person who controlled the tables. We were seated over an hour late after spending a lot of time hanging around in the over crowded bar. Despite the poor service, the food was actually pretty good (lobster and steak) and we ended up having a fun (if late) night.

Now I’m busy packing – off to Paris!

Nov 30

London Hide and Seek

Not enough time to do what I need to. But if I was in London this weekend, I could be up for a game of Hide and Seek around Covent Garden. There’s a plan and a vague indication of how to pla y. The idea is that everyone meets at noon and then moves to the hunting ground. One person is picked as the first seeker and everyone else hides; once found, you join in the hunting. I’m usre this will end up down the pub at the end of it. Via Londonist

Nov 10

Sony DRM/Rootkit issues escalate

Sony are currently facing legal action over their DRM on CDs, the implementation of which acts as a rootkit. Cases are being bought in California, New York and Italy. Meanwhile, the first trojan virus that utilises the cloaking in the applications has been spotted.

So Sony got caught poorly implementing protection that they believe will save revenues, their response was quick but badly thought out and now they are facing legal action and their tools are being misused. Wonder how many sales they’ll lose from this?

Oct 11

More Searches

Two new searches were announced yesterday. Yahoo is adding blog search, not as a separate section but as part of their news search. The tool displays the blog searches in a panel, which can be expanded to explore deeper. You can save things directly to MyWeb from the searches. Tthe search results are currently confined to a targeted set of blogs whilst they work through the beta.

Chris Pirillo’s search, gada.be, is cool. Very cool. Simple in design, it pulls together results from multiple sources, displaying them cleanly in a list form. The key thing is that the search term can be included as the subdomain of the URL used, reducing clicks required and targeting this at mobile users. Even the domain name is easy to enter on a phone keypad. Nice – however displaying latest searches on the home page may not be the best idea without some filter, given some of the terms already on there.

Oct 10

Teenage Internet Use

One of the sessions at Web2.0 was a conversation with 5 teenagers (17-18yo) from the Bay-area, California. Jeffrey Mcnanus and Kareem Mayan both post about this talk. As with the Social Computing Symposium back in April, (notes here) there seems to be some surprise about how this group of people are using the tools, and also how the tools change the behaviour.

From both sessions, the need to be connected comes through; cell phones, IM, web browsing, MySpaces. Communities and friendships are driven from online interaction (” gets home, goes on computer right away, on myspace, talks to people on IM; ” “Sadly I spend a ton of time on it when I get home from crew all I do is talk online and wait for friends to leave me friend requests,”

As Kareem summmarises:

This was one of the more interesting panels, because the perspectives that these teens provided were candid, novel, and insightful. At the same time, these teens were found on Craigslist, which means they’re probably more internet-literate than your average teen. In any case, the audience ate up this panel–my guess is because these folks rarely talk to customers.

. Sometimes neither online interaction (such as blogs) nor formal research works – sometimes you have to go out and talk to people.

Update: there’s a piece in the Guardian about teenage internet use today, looking at content generation and news consumption.

Sep 23


Following up on my Rude Britain post, YesButNoButYes actually finds pictures of some of the place as well as pointing to the full list.

The British Library project Turning the Pages™. Is just wonderful. Works are filmed, turned into 3D repesentations and presented virtually. You view the original publications, interacting with them, and can listen to the audio book at the same time. See here for more information about how they do it.

There’s a second Girl Geek Dinner on October 11th. Sign up on the wiki . I won’t be able to make this one as should be in New York working. Well worth going – it was great fun last time.

Sep 15

Search and Message

I tried out a couple of new tools the last 2 days. The first is Google Blog search and the second is an alpha of an online messenger client.

Google Blog Search has the same characteristics as the rest of the company’s products, a nice clean interface, simple to use, same presentation of results as the other searches. One of the biggest advatnages over its competitors is its speed, as it can leverage the existing assets for the searching. With an ego search, I like that this blog is recognised as being related (and how do they do that?) but thoroughly dislike that posts from here turn up in the search. I don’t see that happening in technorati/icerocket etc. If they can recognise that I’m related to this blog, surely they can strip out the results? One to watch.

The other product is Meebo, an online IM client that allows you work with AIM/Yahoo/MS/ICQ services at the same time. It’s still in alpha and is running on only a single server but first impressions are good. The first page is easy to use and once inside, the layout and usability is excellent. The only issue I’ve had so far is that it logs me out after a while if not in use. I’ve been looking for something like this as it is difficult to put all the clients I need on a work PC. (I hoping the single client for all networks comes sooner rather than later!) More playing around later. Via plaxoed.

Sep 03

Round up 3 Sept

The BBC have an article about the recent Flick and Yahoo identify spat. This one has a long way to go; I’m not going to switch again until they have eased the login issues and ensured any changes to ToS are not disadvantageous.

Via plasticbag.org, hackdiary has an article about a new tool that can take text lists and produce a map of how they interconnect. It uses wikipedia and seach engines to make the connections.

Technorati have released into beta a new listing service; blogs are classified, either via their categories or via a self-classification method and then can be searched for and listed. So currently, I’m number 40 on a list such as London, but the rnakings will all change as more blogs get listed and get classified. this is the niche listings that I was thinking about before. However, it still uses the parameter of number of links/sources, so does not move towards a move community/respect type of ranking that has been talked about.

Great British Football team – we don’t have one. The individual nations seem to be quite happy palying as England, Ireland, Scotand and Wales. But it looks like we are going to have to have one for the Olympics, with Fifa declaring that we must.

After his experimental marketing of The Big Moo, Seth Godin now has his next book, Knock Knock, available on line to read for free. The sequal (which has to be called Who’s There…) will follow shortly.

The winners of Simply Fired have been announced. The winner’s story was about being fired for finishing off a piece of pizza leftover from colleague’s lunch. He wins a Caribbean cruise – hopefully all inclusive so he waon;t be inclined to ‘borrow’ someone elses food!

Sep 03

Disasters and Katrina

One of the more compelling blogs about Katrian is Interdictors, who has been blogging from a data centre all week. What was a faily mundane livejournal has been turned into a must read account of the hurricane and the aftermath. Somehow they are geting fuel and supplies though to keep the generator going. The writer is ex-Special Forces and gives a special viewpoint on the troop and police movements he can see. Looking at the webcam they have just now, I could see buses convoying through the town.

From the reports coming out of the city, you can see how thin a veneer civilisation is. Without the basics, without access to water, food, shelter, people do what htey have to do to survice. They will loot and break into places to get the essentials. There’ll always be an element who take advantage of chaos though – TVs and the such like are not essentials.

With all the accounts of people who have lost everything they ever owned apart from what they could carry with them, it made me think about which of my posessions are essential. And there;s not many – they’re all replaceable, with few exceptions. So the ‘luxuries’ in aa survival bag I had to pack? Some pictures and a teddy bear; all with great sentimental value.