Friday, December 31, 2004

Crestline 6T-280 pocket transistor radios

Crestline 6T-280 pocket transistor radios

Things of beauty.

Deckled edges, true letterpress...

Identity Card Concept Project : Courtesy Blood Card : True Identity

Loving Mr Coates' business card with handwriting, and vaguely wondering how I'd represent myself...

Found this - a bloodsample trust business card.

One hitch... HIV.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Long Tail

The Long Tail

This will become a must-read in the near future.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Ingenuity in adversity

Well, have made it through Christmas. I might write more about it later, but there's a lot I don't feel like writing about at the moment.

So, instead, a few words about the most extraordinary documentary I've just seen - Miracle on the River Kwai - about the makeshift hospital camps set up by the POWs building the infamous jungle railway.

It was remarkble in that one of the old soldiers they interviewed was a talented draughtsman, and had sketched scenes. They bought home the experience much harder, for being an eyewitness record.

But... the thing that amazed me and made it such a fantstic document was the improvised medical procedures the interns (what a telling double meaning that is...) came up with. They realised that blood plasma from prisoners contained antibodies - so seperated plasma from samples using a centrifuge made from discarded bottles and a bicycle to drive the spin.

They made a vitamin replacement drink by fermenting rice, banana and spit.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Easy Does It

Easy Does It

An insightful investigation of work/time and motion, and the need for accessible tech in the home. Gendered technology is always an interesting subject...

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Your most popular photos on Flickr, sorted by the number of favorites

Your most popular photos on Flickr, sorted by the number of favorites

270 people like the photo of my girlfriend in a bikini

But more people have marked my gay cake as a favourite.


Beware the IAs of March

PML (Psychogeographical Markup Language)

A brand of XML designed for describing psychogeography and psychogeographical occurrences.

An objective description language, for subjective events.


Monday, December 20, 2004 | Media | 'We have the best brand in the world' | Media | 'We have the best brand in the world'


I'm not sure if this is journalistic or managemental overenthusiasm.

My boss'sboss'sboss does seem to be inappropriately visionary at times. He's going to land us all in hot water one day...

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Mystery Parcel

The Mystery Parcel
The Mystery Parcel,
originally uploaded by MildlyDiverting.

My mother posted me some cheese.



"Not long ago, many data communicators thought that dial-up modem manufacturers had pushed transmission speeds to the limit with the introduction of 2400 bit
per second (bps) modems. Recently, however, several manufacturers have
creatively combined relatively mature techniques of data transmission with newer
technology and have introduced 9600 bps modems."

Aww, how sweet.

Just for Mr Dolan

Take this as a warning, Tom...

See Igor, it moves...

I've had a morning written by Mary Shelley.

As part of my ongoing - and slightly halfhearted - attempts to sort out my wrist problems, I've been to the hospital. Now, the wrist problems are some kind of RSI - but that's such a blanket vague term, it's very hard to know what exactly the problem is, particularly as my symptoms come and go according to their own fell schedule.

The latest thinking - after finally having a GP who took me seriously enough to refer me to a speciallist - is that my posture has become stooped due to the excessive ammounts of time I spend sitting in front of computers. Specifically, I push my chin forward, which means my neck bends at the wrong point. This means that my cervical spine is slowly beginning to fuse - an arthritic condition called Spondylosis. The stiffness this causes means that the big nerves are being pressed where they exit from my spincal cord - and that's what makes my arms, wrists and hands hurt. Phew. So, strictly, I have PRULD - Posture related upper limb disorder.

Anyway, to make damn sure that the pressure in my neck was the problem, and not some pinching or nerve damage further down, the speciallist sent me to another speciallist for an EMG. That's Electromyography to us laymen - or electric-muscle-drawing if you translate the doctorese.

Having finally found the right bit of St georges hospital - which is insanely huge, I add - I finally got ushered in to a tiny little room, and electrodes were taped to my arm.

The doctor then used a taser to give me electric shocks. And when he'd done with that, he stuck needles deep into my muscles, put elecrified lasoos around my fingers, and made me tense my muscles around the needles. And then he ran current through the electrified lasoos. Which made my arms twitch, further moving the needles that were well embedded in my flesh.

It was the most horrible, sick-to-your-stomach thing I've ever had done. Much worse than having my back cut open. And my arm still hurts an hour and a half later.


And it turns out that the tests proved the problem is in my neck, as suspected.


Monday, December 13, 2004

Joel on Software - Fire And Motion

Joel on Software - Fire And Motion

Getting going is the hardest step.

Just not Working

I'm loving Rodcorp's ongoing series about the working habits of highly effective people. Much better than any pat self improvement book. The entry from Paul H the lawyer amused me though, most notably for the gender bias it displays, and the classic joke about there never being enough cubibles in ladies loos, anywhere. I can only assume from the figures that the ladies are almost at three-to-a-stall, with no standing at the urinal option. Or at least, not without practice.

(Oh, dang. has gone, to be replaced by a page advertising... well, go anywhere pee tubes. Shame)

I love the whole territorial concept of each male lawyer scent-marking his territory. Pissing contests are literally played out in that company, with the Alphamale's delicate position when threatened by the young, strong challengers neatly encapsulated by the luxurious but adapted disable cubicle...

I claim to be neither effective nor creative - but my work habits are definately dispersed and up to the wire. I spend the maximum time possible researching and thinking, then produce work in 'first draft' - almost never going back to edit or reorder. It's a slightly zen way of doing things - maximum preperation, then empty mind and definite execution. Weirdly, I seem to have inherited this approach from my mother, who is also a ruthless deadline queen. Rumour has it she was still hemming her wedding dress in the taxi on the way to the registry office.

Thursday, December 09, 2004


originally uploaded by kukheart.


Jigsaws are the New Black

There was much discussion last night of the joys of codgeryness at the work christmas party last night. The party, frankly, was rubbish, but we think it may have been more to do with the fact that it was the fifth party for some of us, and the novelty has worn thin.

But codgeryness is lovely. We find it manifesting in our lives in strange ways; getting annoyed because Radio 4 is knocked off the air by the local pirate station is one of the more entertaining signs we've identified.

There's a lovely example of codgeryness being the new cool on Emma Kennedy's blog - the joy of eating crisps and playing trivial pursuit.

But I now have my own version.


Lord, they're the most magnificent form of entertainment imaginable.

Manger scene with cotton balls

Manger scene with cotton balls
Manger scene with cotton balls,
originally uploaded by _Ingrid_.
This Flickr Photo nearly made me cry.

That's a really odd thing to say. It's not a particularly special picture, but there's a reason.

Every christmas, my Great Aunt used to put a manger scene in her front window in Canterbury. The dolls she used were homemade, and obviously old - something about the way their faces were drawn on just screamed 1920s. There were always the three wise men, the shepherds, the whole mullarkey. All were decorated with amazing scraps of material, probably leftovers from my Great Grandmother's fancy dress business.

The tableau would be arranged in front of a large piece of dark blue silk, with fairylights hung over all to make it look like stars. The whole thing had a slightly tatty but old-fashioned charm.

I always took it for granted until one day I was on my way to a pub with an art college tutor, and a bunch of friends. The tutor stopped dead in front of Auntie Muriel's window, looked at the dolls, and said 'I love this house. I always feel like it's properly christmas when they put up their nativity. It's such a wonderful thing.'

I felt so proud when I could say - 'Yes, it's my Great Aunt's house'.

That's why I'm sad. I don't think it'll be there this year, as her son and daughter probably don't have the heart for it.

Laurence, if you read this, and you both decide you don't want to do the nativity any more... it's the one thing that I'd really appreciate inheriting. But only if it's time for it to go.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

London Underground Map

Heritage: Exploring Underground London

Yet more on the lazy blogmeme of the underground map.

But this one... well, it's got rivers, roman highstreets, sewers and Eisenhowers HQ marked on it.


Would you like me to make the connection for you?

By the magic of technorati, I've discovered the owner of an admirable collection of facial hair discussing my old post about London Telephone Exchanges. He was wondering what the link between SMS and the exchange mnemonics was, and rather than post the most enormous comment on his blog, I've moved it here. Oh, Blogger, do kindly impliment trackback....

The link (between exchanges and SMS) is the labelling of buttons on phonedials with letters, and the use of a numberpad for alphabetic input. I've always wondered why, despite the fact that British phones are lettered, we've never adopted the American practice of using 'words' as phonenumbers for advertising. 0800-there's-no-q-or-o-on-the-old-style-dials, maybe?

Actually, I'm hacked off about STOnegrove because I live in PUTney. If I had a number on the Putney exchange, I'd be telling everyone that my number was Putney 30## with utter glee (and a sort of forced, clipped RP accent), because part of me wants to live in the 1940s.

(Actually, I suppose it's possible I live in GIBbon, but I don't give a monkeys for that exchange name, it's just not stylish enough)

I do remember Telegrams, and that strange thing they became... what was it called? Ah, Telemessages:

Did you know that you can now send an MMS, and for something like 5 quid have it delivered as a printed postcard, by post? Technology is finaly bringing itself back to the tangible...

Ooh! It turns out the exchange is Gibbon because the Decline and fall of the blah blah blah chap was born in putney. Well, I never.

Edward Gibbon and his amazing comedy testicles

Edward Gibbon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

OMG. Edward Gibbon had testicles the size of watermelons.

Blimey, I do love facts.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

A national monumnet demolished.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | TV and Radio | Obituary: Fred Dibnah

Only just found out about this, due to fortuitous turning off of reality-show pap in time to watch some proper telly.

I'm rather sad, as one of my favourite things in recent months has been lying abed'o'saturday watching old Fred Dibnah shows on UK History.

What a star the man was. Buy, you know you're getting to be middle aged when your idea of top telly is a man talking about canals and traction engines.

All the good people are karking it at the moment.

Friday, December 03, 2004

ofoe romeo: Softer wins

foe romeo: Softer wins

Foe's musings about 'soft wins' and games to be played in the living room (uh, that'll be parlour games, then, will it, kim?) has prodded my brain into remembering my killer red-button etv app.

It's based around the idea of strugggling for control of the remote. You have a number of players - the game is unimportant, maybe a simple quiz, or a timed challenge - but to 'win' a round you have to be the person who makes the fastest lunge for the remote control on the coffee table.

It's a lovely way of enducing good natured mayhem, as family members become increacingly devious about hiding the remote, inching closer, faking moves etc etc.

Headshift :: smarter, simpler, social

Headshift :: smarter, simpler, social

"Distributed CPU cycles are worthless unless you're SETI or Pixar. Distributed brain cycles... now that's a much more intriguing proposition."

Nice. Soing a lot of thinking about distributed metadata efforts today. And this is a lovely way of looking at the problem... sorry, the solution.

It's far better to have a million reasoning minds working on a problem unknowingly, than a million unknowing minds working reasonably.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

BBC - Norfolk - Kids - My Life As a Teenage Goth

BBC - Norfolk - Kids - My Life As a Teenage Goth

Great use of user comments on a site. And bless the likkle 12 year old rebels. Heh. Let's hope the site's still there when they're 20...

Friday, November 12, 2004

rodcorp: At the exact centre of London, Britain's smallest police station

rodcorp: At the exact centre of London, Britain's smallest police station

This is lovely - the tiniest policestation imaginable. And also a discussion of the centre of continents and cities, which is one of those idle memes that pops into my head every now and then.

Actually, it brought back a memory. There was a Professor at the University of Kent, called Cyril Eisenberg - I don't know if he's still there. His specialism was, I presume, fluid dynamics, as once in a while he would give open lectures for my dad's young scientists organisation about things like bubbles, rainbows and smoke rings.

It was from him I learnt, age 7 ish, how to make a smoke ring machine out of a cardboard box and a condom. These are now marketed as Airzookas - wish I'd made that leap earlier. Although I doubt they're still made out of condoms.

Anyway, at his bubble demonstrations he would show a method he had devised for determining the centres of irregular shapes, and ways to determine the shortest distance between a number of points on their perimiter. It, of course, invovled bubbles.

He would trace the irregular shape in pins, stretched between two sheets of perspex. When dipped vertically into a bucket of bubble concentrate, the sheets of bubble automatically fall into the most efficient arrangement of planes and vectors between the points around the edge - by simple dint of surface tension. The patterns can be simply measured to determine the precise geometric centre of the shape.

So elegant, and also quite beautiful. And a huge ammount of fun if you're a 7 year old geek, as you can imagine.

Hey, Cyril still gives his lecture - check him out.

Inklings of importance

A presentation on Flickr given by one of it's creators.

It's totally fascinating, and relevant, but I understand a tiny fraction of it.

Someone explain?

Monday, November 01, 2004

Mildly Diverting is out there

Mildly Diverting


My family appeared to have discovered this site.

Hi Dad. Hi Laurence.

Be warned. I don't really censor myself here. So... decide what you want to know about me before reading on.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

How to insult teenagers with stately grace

So there I was, on a popular p2p filesharing app. And a crash wiped my waiting list. Frankly, I wasn't too worried as it was a bunch of people leeching Eminem bootlegs that weren't staying in my collection any longer than the time it would take me to id3 tag them for a friend.

Being the nice lady I am, I left my computer running whilst I was at work, so it could node away to its hearts' content. And I returned home to some verry sniffy IM messages from one of said Eminem leechers.

Sadly, the first part of the exchange was lost to a forced reboot. My recollection of it was something along the lines of 'Hey, where's your eminem?' 'I was downloading that album from you' 'you're an asshole for removing your files'.

So, being a good community minded soul, I sent a few lines back, saying sorry, my harddrive wasn't on, and I'd be happy to make the files available, but that I didn't appreciate being called 'asshole'. I think I'm perfectly within my rights to say this, as my profile clearly states be civil, or feel the wrath of my matronly stare,

So, here's the remainder of the IM conversation, with frankly the Best Insult Ever to throw at a teenage Eminem fan who is calling you asshole.

[southern-rock] all user that remoed files is an asshole ..... get the fuck out from this program ore i will shot you down
[mildlydiverting] Southern Rock, I'm very sorry. I would have been happy to sort out those files for you, but frankly your attitude isn't doing you any favours. I appologise that I was away from my computer at work all day, and that my system crashed
[mildlydiverting]These things happen.
[southern-rock] you will be bann from and program .... bye asshole
[mildlydiverting] You know, one day you'll be married with kids, a mortgage and a mid ranged car. And you'll be happy.

Oh, and if you happen to encounter this chap... give him a stern stare from me?

A notebook of Every thought in your head

I've just skim read the first chapter or so of this.

It's oddly compelling. Partly because it reads exactly as it was written - JUST BLURTED OUT, and as such is hanging in some strange liminal middleground between sanity and schizoid rambling.

It's that 'Is the writer sane?' that fascinates me. He admits that his system for capturing every important thought will bring clarity, but also drive you mad. The intensity of his belief in the process of capturing all of his thoughts also seems to verge on insanity - who on earth in their right mind does try to capture their entire inner life? The obsessive and quixotic nature of the task seems to mark it as being the project of someone in the grip of a compulsion.

The other thing that... prickles about the piece is it's closeness to 'The curious incident of the dog in the night time'. The approach to writing sounds like the voice of the autistic narrator. So, is this fiction? An elaborate hoax? How did the author of 'dog' have such insight into the fractured narrative of an autistic mind? Is there a literature of insanity?

Then, of course, there's the similarity to my current working process. I've spent two months documenting my though processes around building a CMS to run websites - in notebooks (and yes, using a homebrewed annotation system), through mindmaps, on wiki pages, in links through I'm externalising my thought process in the pursuit of a product. Not the best way to go about it, but the need to hold the entire scope in my head has been overwhelming.

Strangely, I've had long conversations about my need to hold perfectible mental models in my head during various theraphy sessions. So is this a manifestation of the 'mad' side of my personality? The slightly strange and intense bits that make me good with systems and classification, and absolutely terrible at tact?

Who knows. But I think I may abandon my idea for a crazy art project of capturing everything in the world in a taxonomy of my own making, using mind maps. Despite the lure of the fun of the project - and yes, that is my definition of fun - I think the damage it would do to my mental state might not be a good payoff...

More Peel goodness

Favourite John Peel quotes

Now, I never was a big listener to the Peel Sessions. Mostly because I found all the noise a bit much - not my cup of tea, indie. But I was a big fan of Home Truths.

I am much more Radio 4 than XFM, after all.

Anyway, the reason I loved Home Truths was John Peel's gently cutting good humour.

The page above is more than worth reading.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Music | Obituary: John Peel

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Music | Obituary: John Peel

I'm more upset about John Peel dying than about the death of my great Aunt.

Rock Dad is gone. This is sad. He did feel like a favourite uncle.

Monday, October 25, 2004

User Education Is Not the Answer to Security Problems (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

User Education Is Not the Answer to Security Problems (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

Do you think Jakob got a virus last week? Or someone went shopping on his credit card?

Certainly the most empassioned and political alertbox I've seen in a while...

Friday, October 22, 2004

Ironic Bereavement

So, on 3rd October I posted about talking to my Great Aunt, Muriel, about the family photos. The idea was to get some history and 'metadata' about the contents into a useable form before the knowledge was lost.

And I had a lovely encouraging comment from a complete stranger, too.

Guess what?

Muriel died suddenly at about 7.30pm yesterday, at the age of 97. She's the last... She was the last surviving member of that generation of my family.

How fucking ironic.

Bye Muriel. You'll be missed, and you leave many newly-born secrets in your wake.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

A word in your ear

BBC - Radio 4 - Factual Programmes - Homepage

A couple of radio 4 gems this week. Firstly, Bill Bailey on the Theremin - you can't possibly knock a show about retro electronica featuring Manny-moo.

Secondly, a biting criticism of Powerpoint. Nothing I didn't know or suspect anyway, but every manager in the world should be forced to listen to the show.

Loving the 'Fight them on the Beaches' done as a business presentation.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Slideshows as Mediaplayer Visualisations

Flickr: Forums

I'm just chock stuffed full of insane ideas at the moment.
"...a media player visualisation plugin that let me set Flickr slideshows as my visualisation. Could be fairly configurable - allowing the plugin to skip through popular tags and slideshow all the related pics, or display certain people's streams, or, or or... even one that takes a keyword from the title of the song playing and returns a tag-based slideshow for that word..."
God, I wish I could code. I'd develop some of these myself...

Human Archives

It's 2 am, and I'm having one of those frantic manic thinking fits. I should have a gin or something.

Anyway, thought the third...

Was just thinking about the metadata issues I posted about a few days ago. And the image of searching through a photolibrary brought Shooting The Past to mind.

If you haven't seen it, do so immediately. If you're working with metadata or archives of any sort, it's a salutatory lesson in 'remembering the value of human quirks'.

Hear my plea, Oh Lazyweb

Oh, great gods of the Lazyweb, thee who can code in Perl, and C++, and knoweth how to use the command line...

I'm in bookmark hell. I've got two browsers on my work machine, a roaming profile that doesn't update properly, a account, a computer at home with two profiles on it, two CDs with my favourites saved on them, and a backup on a harddrive somewhere; and I'm bored, bored, bored of never having my bookmarks organised properly.

Can someone write a beautiful browser plugin that allows me to...
  • Bookmark webpages with tags, like does
  • Treat my 'bunch of tagged links' as a time-based linkstream
  • Publish a tasty RSS file I can plug into my blog
  • Also treat my 'b.o.t.l' as a set of folders, layed out visually, so I can find stuff easily
  • Make sure that if a link in the b.o.t.l has more than one tag, it appears in more than one folder
  • ... but makes sure links are always kept up to date if I change the URL it points to
  • Allows my browsers-plural, of both MSIE and Firefox flavours, to access my b.o.t.l's and display them as if they were my bookmarks/favourites
  • Automatically adds links I bookmark/favourite-ize to the b.o.t.l's on the server, and give me the option to tag them like wot I do in
  • Synchronise with and bloglines, in a live bookmarks sort of a way.

Please. Before I go mad.


I'm a huge fan of AudioScrobbler - it's just the niftiest bit of kit imaginable.

It's about to go through a rocky patch tho, because they've introduced moderation based on a rather limited model...

But, anyway, I'm thinking - what would an AudioScrobbler for books do? Presumably if you type in the ISDN number (a unique ID) you could bring up author and title. And from there, you'd have a 'slowscrobbling' system that would track your reading habits over time.

Anyway, follow up how my idea does on the AudioScrobbler fora.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Paths not taken


These are so lovely. It's beginning to really annoy me that when I see something so brilliantly creative I instantly think 'Why didn't I stick with the art?'

Well, I'm lazy, is all. But seeing enough great stuff like this might kick me into action one day.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Stop with the wanky, Nokia

Nokia - Phone Features - Nokia 7280 - Phone Models - Phones

OK, it's beautiful, and looks like the sort of mobile phone that Rachel in Bladerunner would own.

But GET WITH THE PROGRAMME, Nokia. How on earth am I going to send a text with it? Eh?

I think you'll find that's pretty key to the female target demographic you're going for. You twits.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Venn Metatopia

Stumbled across an interesting article in this months' Wired - about the importance and difficulty of adding sufficient human readable metadata to digital photos.

A few things strike me about this. First, we're already dealing with this problem in the analogue world. My family is full of really rather good amateur photographers. I've inherited boxes and boxes of slides from aunts, grandmother and parents - and they're full of pictures about which I know no contextual information at all.

One of the projects I must do before my great aunt dies (the last of her generation in my family - currently somewhere in her high nineties, and daft as a brush, in a lovely way) I need to sit with her and do some archiving work: look at objects and photographs in her house, and preserve their stories and histories. For instance, I have an old copy of the Book of Mormon on my shelf - it belonged to my great grandmother, who nearly converted to Mormonism around the turn of the century. She was a nurse, on night duties, and used to fill her time by making the most beautiful, detailed copies of religious postcards in a huge sketchbook. Now, think of the stories behind that - and think of what will be lost from my family's oral history if no-one bothers to record this before she goes...

I sort of want to have some kind of automatic metadata generator for _people_.

Secondly... And back to the photos after that digression; the article only very tangentially mentions Flickr, which I think is a revolutionary service. Why? Because playing with their service, and the way they present 'tags' makes it very quickly clear what the benefits of tagging your pictures can be. OK, tagging is a classification system that is personal, and not based on any kind of agreed vocab... So it might not translate. But when you get a sufficient volume of people adding a few simple tags to photos, you get much more meaningful data.

Add to that tagging the ability for anyone to go and add further tags to refine the classification of a picture according to their personal system, and what you get is effectively a subjective map of the position of the picture in a semantic framework. I think this gets round a whole number of problems one sees with databases, metadata and so on - it allows everyone to sort it in their personalised way, but doesn't favour one system over another, so you get a broad spectrum of meaning around the object being classified. It's the kind of thing that would send a librarian completely potty. But here's why this doesn't matter.

The example given in the wired article, of looking for president Coolidge and some Indians, involves hunting through index cards, then walking into another room, and physically sorting through files. This is the bit that is eliminated by a digital system, and it's also the section of the work that requires absolute pinpoint accuracy - when you're doing that amount of physical labour, you maybe want to check 3 or 4 images before you get your positive 'hit'. But think about using google's image search - often based on the scantiest metadata available. You'll happily flick through four or five pages of 50 images to find the one you're after - because the work just involves clicking a mouse.

There is more room for ambiguity in digital classification systems.

The recursive nature of search - refine- search refine is closer to the way information is organised inside your head - it doesn't have a good analogue in the analog world.

Finally, the article doesn't mention the ESP game - a neat way of using bored five minutes, and people's competitive spirit - to add tags to images. Treat adding metadata as something that is of obvious use, or is a fun activity, and people will be much more inclined to do it. Couple this way of capturing the 'subjective' data with the diary synchronisation, GPS and EXIF data mentioned in the article, and that feeling of bewilderment at a box of physical objects with no context outside the life of the (mortal) creator will be a thing of the past.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Pictures, Finally

Ashridge Spire
Ashridge Spire,
originally uploaded by MildlyDiverting.
Just got round to uploading pictures of the extraordinary place I stayed on a training course.

The sad thing is that I couldn't get a decent shot of the turf maze, which made me very happy...

AskOxford: What are the plurals of 'octopus', 'hippopotamus', 'syllabus'?

AskOxford: What are the plurals of 'octopus', 'hippopotamus', 'syllabus'?: "Octopus is not a simple Latin word of the second declension, but a Latinized form of the Greek word oktopous, and its 'correct' plural would logically be octopodes. "

This makes me very happy

Ladies Against Women Global Headquarters

Ladies Against Women Global Headquarters

Dear lord, my ma has gone back into politics.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Towards Semipermeable Blogging

An interesting paper on privacy and blogging by the coder fired from Friendster (apparently) for blogging.

Raises some interesting philosophical points about the 'exposed privacy' of blogs (hello, andrew...) and the need for controll through centralised apps...

Monday, September 27, 2004

The sacrifice of war is killing

Via Neil Gaiman, an amazing piece by Stephen Fry about what the sacrifice of war is; not giving your life for your country, but not being the moral choice about whether or not you may kill.

Read it.
And because this story, that Neil G refers to, might dissappear into the depths of the Google Cache, I've taken the priviledge of ripping it off. Because stories like this should never, ever be forgotten.

"He joined up and was sent to France, where he drilled with a spade and in civilian clothes because that was all they had. When the Army discovered that Pilkington spoke passable Norwegian, having learned at night school, he was recruited into military intelligence and sent to what was then the Ringway Airport near Manchester for parachute training. Soon, Pilkington found himself in the Norwegian campaign with the task of testing the extent of enemy infiltration into local Norwegian society.
Killing was not what Pilkington had in mind on a spring morning in 1940 as he and a colleague, Jim Beech, walked along a country lane approaching the small town of Bodo. Both were dressed in what somebody in an office back home had said was correct Norwegian clothing. An elderly, grey-haired lady with a pleasant smile approached them. "Good morning," she said, in English. "I think that you are British, is that so?"
"Yes," Pilkington replied.
"I can always tell the British. If you will come to my house, I will give you breakfast. We are allies in this terrible thing that has happened to my country. Come with me."
The woman led them to her house in which was her son, a teenager. "Ingvald," said the nice lady in Norwegian. "These are British spies. Go out and telephone the SS that we have them here."
Ingvald began to put on his boots.
"Do you have a toilet?" said Beech.
"My boy will show you," said their hostess. Then, to Ingvald, "Show him, then get off quickly."
Beech followed the youth round to the rear of the house. There he drew his knife and, with a swift, professional thrust, stabbed Ingvald through the back and into the heart.
In the kitchen, the lady turned from the stove and Pilkington said in Norwegian: "Madam, you should have found out first whether we spoke your language." Drawing his revolver, he shot her as Beech returned wiping his knife. In later years, whenever he was asked if he had killed anyone in the war, Pilkington would reply: "Yes, I shot a nice old lady who was just going to give me breakfast."

William (Bill) Pilkington, actor and army officer: born Wallasey, Cheshire 9 December 1916; BEM 1989; died Altrincham, Cheshire 24 August 2004.

BBC - Radio 4 - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

BBC - Radio 4 - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Well, I've finally got round to listening to the new Hitchhikers. It had to be done in a quiet moment in the office, because my home connection is just too poor.

Well, I'm not eleven any more, so the fannish fervour with which it should be greeted is tempered somewhat.

But it was worth it, just for the matresses. I'd completely forgotten about them, which is odd, because they were just my favourite, favourite thing about the books originally. They're that perfectly balanced Adams-ian whimsy mixed with fake science that endears his writing to me.

The sad thing is the tone of the cast. They've grown up, as folk are wont to do, in the intervening 20 years. I had such an enormous crush on Trillian when I heard the originals, and now she sounds like she should be advertising oxo. It's a bit like the 'working out what old ladies looked like when they were 20' game I play on the bus - you can hear the ghosts of the young voice in the vintage, mature tones of the cast. It gives the whole production a kind of aspic-held nostalgia - as though all of us are getting older and holding on to this ephemeral pleasure. Whilst the voices have improved with age... like some kind of expensive cheese, or something, it makes listening to what is basically a twentysomething having a poke at funky Islington disco society sound a bit too po-faced.

I hope we don't end up mummifying HHG, in the way that Dr Who was preserved in stasis for so long, never allowed to become a historical curio.

So, overall, it's rather better than I was expecting. Not enough Terry Riley in the background music*. Slightly laboured thing about the guide going on the fritz, but actually I liked the fact it suddenly spliced back in to the Proper Book Voice we know and love. But, you know...

A good thing.

So, anyway, I've got a funny old relationship with the guide here at the beeb. I'm sure it was fundamental to me ending up working here, as it was the first media phenomenon I got passionate about. It kicked off my fascination with electronic music. One of my first bosses - who got me in to t'internet - was one of the people cutting tape off the spools when it jammed half an hour before broadcast in the early 80s. It gave me my first solo website build. It gave me my second TV credit, as a thanks in the tribute to Douglas made for Omnibus just after he died. It gave me my first experience of professional three-camera OB directing - and first proper bit of producing work - when I had the privilege of running the webcast of Douglas' memorial service.

And, luckily lovely Roger at Radio4 interactive has just confirmed that Yes, it was my idea to get Rod Lord in to do the illustrations for the remaking of the computer game.

Please imagine me elaborately thumbing my nose at all of the cool kids at school who laughed at me for turning up dressed as Ford Prefect on Red Nose Day.

(Wanders off to bask in smug self-satisfaction...)

*Dirk Maggs and Wix Wickens, if you ever read this, get Boards of Canada and Mum in for the next one. And Dirk, get a haircut, you look ridiculous.

My first Internet Posts

Oooh, they're cringingly bad.

please don't. They're for personal use only.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Glitter For Brains

Glitter For Brains: " go to the toilet and employ The Hitler Piss: a manoeuvre where you position yourself at the urinal and extend your left hand in the Nazi salute to the wall in order to steady yourself. "

Lee got howwibwy dwunk. And has come up with the best neologism I've heard in ages.

Now, back to _my_ hangover...

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Baked Apples

eBay item 2264682789 (Ends 31-Aug-04 21:16:36 BST) - Unique Apple Macintosh circa 1987 in molten state

It really is. It's an Apple Classic that survived a fire, and STILL BOOTS UP.

It looks like Dali's computer.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Burn the presses! Teachers Union in Ireland wants camera phone ban for schools: "The union has said the phones may be used to compromise the personal integrity of students or teachers or for bullying and intimidation and could transmit pornography.'"

Yes. And so can a pen and paper. Or a magazine. Or a human voice.

Why are people so scared? Do we still believe that these cameras steal a tiny portion of our souls?

Monday, September 20, 2004

Koen Hauser

Unit Creative Management Amsterdam / New York

Wow, the guy is... strange.



Just found a fantastic live journal of anatomical pictures.

Should point out, that besides my gentle obsession with household paraphenalia, I'm also quietly obsessed wuth anatomical drawing, and art based thereon.

So this is yummy. You of the nervous dispositions may want to look away.

Lucky Mr Belam`

Well, I really did mean to get to London open house this year. I even got as far as ordering the brochure. But then a girlfriend with a bout of flu put the mockers on it. It's a shame as it was pretty much the last chance to see the old St Pancras buildings, let alone Leighton's House. Or the Kingsway underpass, which was galling.

Martin B, a lovely workmate, made the best of it - he visited excitingly disused but nonetheless fascinationg bits of the tube system. Check out his photos.

It was kind of ameliorated by being allowed to watch two Fred Dibnah programmes in bed on saturday morning, and two 'Seven Wonders of the industrial age'-es on sunday night. Which featured Mr Bazalgettes sewers, and the fantastic pumping station at shellness.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Awful Plastic Surgery

Awful Plastic Surgery

Oh, oh, oh, the Heat reader in me (and, I hasten to add, it's very well hidden) is just loving this site. Marvel at collagen gone wrong. Learn about the hithertoo under-rated problem of capsular contracture. Yum!

Elements of User Experience

A very nice diagram: it lays out all of the aspects of site building and IA in a really beautifully simple way.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

O! M! G!

The Science Museum is opening up it's storeroom for public tours.

To say I am frothing at the mouth about this would be an understatement of gargantuan proportions. This, as far as I'm concerned, will be the visual and intellectual version of heaven. I pray they let you take your time and take many photos: I can't begin to imagine the gorgeous sites in there.

One of my favourite features of the science museum is the small display of domestic technology in the basement. I developed an obsession with outmoded household appliances during my degree - it started as an interesting and emblematic way to express feelings about my relationship with my mother, and some kind of burgeoning post-feminist commentary on the lost history of the home... And I just fell in love with Bakelite curves and chrome. Added to that, the sheer substantiating of old appliances is lovely. My mother still uses a 1960s fridge and hairdryer (I have a suspicion they may have been wedding presents...). I'm also stupidly over attached to kitchen equipment I've inherited from her, and my grandmother.

Note to self - I must continue my series of drawings.

Anyhoo... Yes, I'm very excited. And I'm booking my tour immediately, and taking every bloody camera I own.

That's four cameras, in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

It's in the trees... -> I found a digital camera in the woods

Via Mr. Coates - a forum post from a chap who found a lost digital camera, with some beautifully eerie pictures in the memory.

Feels like the start of a superior teen horror flick.

Oh, on another note - things I've just found out. The site that showed all of the pictures of the GI's coffins fresh from the gulf? It's named after the slot in which you dumped paperwork in 1984 - the Memory Hole...

Friday, August 20, 2004

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Birthday Party Goody Bags

So, went to the Cliterati 4th Birthday last night.

It was a rather extraordinary do, all in all.

Not because it was outrageous - hell, the stripperonly got down to a babydoll nightie, and the human canape platters were wearing pants - but because of the strange mix of people, and of corporate sponsorship.

Admittedly, some of the scruffier buggers were in my party, and there was a slight element of liggery, but... it was the rather lovely elderly couple in dinner dress. And the young chap in brown biker boots, a Vivienne Westwood tshirt, a suit jacket and a padded sun vizor.

Sir, whoever you are, you look like an utter cock.

I know that a lot of the point for the lovely Miss Dubberly was to promote her book, her site, and various other commercial ventures. And that's cool. But sweet christ, what poor products decided to promote themselves around her success.

Sarah and I sat excitedly on the bus, furtively taking inventory of our take-home goody bags, and eating sweeties. Sadly, my bottle of moisturising lube had exploded in the bottom of the bag, so my pack of strawberry gummi lips were deemed inedible.

(And yes, I know that lube is specially made to be edible and taste nice; frankly, it doesn't. Especially the flavoured stuff. Never, never use Pina Colada flavoured lube. It tastes terrible, and has too much sugar in it, which is a very elegant way to give yourself thrush.)

The excitement on unpacking - two! two! vibrators! Porn! on!DVD! A big! bottle! of lube! A book! Clitoral! Stimulators! - slightly paled when we investigated the products more thoroughly. The huge bottle of lube turned out to be a poncy bottle of buxton spring water. The porn, despite being shot by a girl (hurrah, applause, good thing, etc) was absolutely terrible. Maybe I've been spolit by two many high quality gay productions, but... at least invest in some lighting. And show us a cock without a strange 15 minute 'acting' preamble. And, you know, I don't actually mind more than a strand of public hair.

And the vibrators. Well.

Both hard cased, one 'micro-bullett' with a remote control, one conventional. Now, if you're designing a hard-case plastic vibrator meant for... well, penetration, don't design battery access involving twisiting it appart half way down the shaft. Why? Well, you get a sharp ridge of flashed plastic running around the circumference of the vibe. This causes all kind of exciting internal injuries; this was something I learnt many years ago, and had no desire to repeat last night.

Also, don't choose an uncommon battery type, or an odd number. No-one has 3 AAA batteries lying around the place, and there's nothing more annoying than getting a vibe home and not having sufficient juice. Ahem. There's also something a bit irritating about poor battery fit - putting in one of your precious rechargeable batteries (and yes, this is exactly the reason we have a big battery charger in the house) only to discover it's irretrievably stuck, and the spring has contracted too far to make a proper connection.

And then... volume. We got one of the minivibes up and running, and played with it's seven variable pulsing patterns. It sounded like a magimix with epilepsy, or possibly a small motorboat in trouble on the river. And... well, intensity. I'm all for a good strong buzz, but not one that is going vaporise your clit in under thirty seconds in some kind of genital sanding apocalypse.

The lesson from all of this? Well, both products were marked as being reccomended by Cosmopolitain. So, never, ever trust Cosmo for good advice about a vibrator. It's that simple.

I'm sure there's more. Possibly something about the 'Black Porn by Black Writers' that was written in transliterated Jamaican Patois, and seemed to have booze and coke on every page I flicked to. Possibly something about the oil for increacing labial bloodflow that smelt exactly like Juicy Fruit Gum, and faded to smell exactly like sump-oil. But frankly, I'm just a bit too depressed by the state of the smut industry to go on.

Poor Emily. She's a brilliant person, runs a great site, and is a wonderful sex-positive activist. But she's beeing badly let down by her sponsors.

Nice cocktail frock, tho.

Change Tracking

Stumbled across this. It's a rather interesting way of visualising changes to complex documents, based on changes to the Wikipaedia.

I'm impressed, but the output is just so... dense.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

IF Movie=poor THEN Satire=brilliant

The fabulous Lee has outdone himself. I didn't have much of a desire to go and see iRobot. I now don't need to, having read Lee's sarky rendition on his blog.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Bliss and Torture.

An exciting and fun weekend. Feeling very much back to my old self after six months of black dog. The drugs do work.

So, why so much back to myself? Well, Saturday was the kind of day I used to have when I was single. There's a lovely sense of acheivement when you've got a great relationship ticking along (with the requisite work being put into it) but you're able to go off for a day and behave exacly as you would when most yourself.

I have a habit of over-involving myself in my relationships, and come out of them with that rather sad feeling of having mislaid an aspect of myself for the duration. With the fiance, I know it's for good - so I have no excuses, I have to do that extra work and negotiate time and space for solitude in the couple. And saturday was the first time I've successfully done that. Ever.

So, after a trip around soho, shopping (result - a Ukulele, a ukulele chord book, three books from Magma (good girl, only three...), a big handful of cheap CDs from Fopp and a Lomographic Super Sampler camera), some sushi, and a good half hour spent contemplating the idea of going to a gallery (I didn't - it was too far to walk in the heat by that stage) I felt recharged. And then had the lovely coincidence of ending up on the same bus as my beloved on the way home.

And then, to Torture Garden together in the evening. I know that I won't be believed if I tell you, dear readers, that it's actually all rather charming and innocent. But it is. I love the place for its friendliness, great music, and utterly fabulous costumes. Oh, and the opportunity to stare at people doing odd things to each other on St Andrews Crosses, of course. But, hey, I'm pretty mundane in most other aspects of my life - allow me a few pecadilloes.

Highlight of the evening - meeting a man called Viking - really, he was christened that - who had a beard, and liked Mead.

I wonder about writing up the odder fetish-scene aspects of my life here. For one, far too many PeopleFromTheOffice know the URL, and I have enough of a reputation

So, rather than explicit description, I'll leave you with the contents of an email newsletter inviting me to a summer garden party that arrived this morning. Please note that I find this as funny, pathetic and absurd as you will.

2pm Pool Bar Opens
Finger Buffet and snacks
Beers, wines, alcopops, Pimms and soft drinks served
Outdoor heated pool and places to sunbathe and socialise

4pm Fetish Olympics
6 Teams led by Mistresses and Masters will compete for Gold, Silver and
Bronze Medals. There will be one overall winning team
The Fetish Olympics will be video'd this year so please let us know if you
want to be a Movie Star or not. We are directing the filming and will be
managing the editing so will ensure that people who do not wish to be
included are not. There will be a set area for the filming so it is clear
where you can watch from if you don't wish to be in the video.

6.30pm BBQ
Tropical Rum Punch served as well as beers, wines, alcopops and soft drinks
9pm * 10.30pm * Midnight - Entertainment by The Fetish Crew

Other features:
Bouncy Castle * Dungeon Play Room * Trampling Frame
BDSM equipment by the lake, under the oak tree and on the lawn
Sexual Play Room * Massage * Dance Floor * Love Swings * Chill out areas

DJs - Baz, Simon, Irish Pete
Rude Food - Chocolate and Fruit Extravaganza

Three Things:

Finger Buffet, Bouncy Castle, Misplaced Apostrope.


Friday, August 06, 2004

Gay TV


I'm not entirely sure about LOGO, the gay TV channel from MTV.

Actually, I am sure about it. Just, no. They make a pitch in their press release about the diversity of the gay community etc.

But... if we're that diverse, why on earth should we be interested in the insignifant linking theme of gayness?

That's not put very well at all. But my basic feeling is that, to be honest, I'm not interested in someone just because they're gay. I'm interested just because they're interesting.

I can imagine nothing worse than limiting my TV viewing to Will and Grace, Queer Eye and reruns of Oranges are Not the Only Fruit.

Well, yes, I can. Limiting my TV viewing to football. But, you know...

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Lovely News

Just found my faith in three of my workmates utterly vindicated by them being offered either their own job, or the job above them.

I am very, very proud of them.

And also secretly relieved that my choices of staff weren't too far off beam.

And relieved that none of them will be getting a letter like this.

Friday, July 30, 2004

LILEKS (James) Old Newspaper Ads

LILEKS (James) Old Newspaper Ads

The world is a sadder place for the lack of adverts like this...

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

House of Apology Pits Survey

House of Apology Pits Survey

Furry pits on ladies - yay or nay? And what does it say about you?

Very, very amusing. Although I think I may find Worf more attractive than blondes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Wonderland: Feng Shui motherboard

Wonderland: Feng Shui motherboard

Aaah, gorgeous. Alice has a wonderfully charming attitude to technology that is entirely humanistic.

I love that these guys are actually living the old adage that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishambe from magic.

Worth it just for the HM Department of Vague Paranoia joke.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Wired News: The Incredible Shrinking Comic

Wired News: The Incredible Shrinking Comic

Comics on your Mobile. Ann Kelly, Take Note.

London Underground - Tube maps

London Underground - Tube maps are a bit of an obsession (well, along with 50% of other London based bloggers, it seems.

So the little flash animation on the LT site that morphs between the 33 map, the current map, and the geographical reality ROCKS.

Monday, July 19, 2004



Aha! A track listing!

Funny, I was sure that was Winnifred Atwell, not Russ Conway...

Chemical Warfare

This is your army on Drugs.

Rather fantastic footage of tests into LSD - looks like the late 40s to me.


Friday, July 16, 2004

Vintage electrical

Vintage electrical - found this via Lee's blogroll.

That? That's my mum's hairdryer, that is.

I wonder wha it's worth on ebay?

I think I may take up collecting vintage electrical stuff, too.

Ducking and Jiving

A rather super trip to see Lemon Jelly live at Sommerset house last night. The usual Jelly fun - Play your Cards Right, and a free CD to take home.

The leaping about at the gig was puncutated by a text conversation with Sarah at home, which I've decided to preserve...

S: Custard is not an explosive

K: No. But custard POWDER is

S: What did we do wrong? Yucky burnt custard smell.

K: Try blowing it across a naked flame

S: Kaboom.

K: I'm going to be the first person to lose a fiance in a hideous custard related accident

S: Wahahaha...


S: Bwh-ha-haa! Pyrocustard!

K: Um, where's the cat?

S: Buy cat wig.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Comments from strangers

Comments from strangers on this here blog are a new thing for me. The first one I got was more than a tad trollish, and probably part of a general effort to increace someone's standing in the Nigritude Ultramarine SEO challenge. But I'm going to answer it anyway.

It's not that I dislike SEO. I do a lot of SEO work with metadata as a routine part of my job. However, I do it as a public service to help people, not to sell anything.

What I dislike are SEO _Companies_ - the kind of people who charge money for doing things that any good web designer should have done for them in the first place, and pollute search engines with pointless results.

I'm a big beleiver in the semantic web, and best practice for metadata. I don't think it does anyone any favours to click through on a result and be taken to a page that is essentially garbage - having your brand or service associated with that kind of activity is ultimately going to damage public perception of that brand.

So, what I dislike is companies charging innocent souls money to perform a service that will ulimately harm their business model, and the polity of the web.

Spam-related SEO techniques just aren't cricket.

The other comment is a lovely passing comment about my NPR post; from someone who knows their onions. I wonder how on earth the nice chap found me?

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Good labels make life better.

Interesting from a usability point of view - and worth thinking about when you're implimenting rich media searches?

This 404 page from the US NPR website has a lovely contextual search - not only allowing you to enter keywords, but search by date and by programme. The thing that seems really usable is the way they've entered text in the search boxes that explains the functions of each in very natural language.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Monday, June 14, 2004

Sexy and Disturbing

Inertia Creeps - a great video, and a perfect combination of sleazy and disturbed.

How Websites Learn | Acts of Volition

How Websites Learn | Acts of Volition

Now, How Buildings Learn must be my all-time favourite TV show. It literally changed the way I think, and led on to me taking a masters in TV production to learn simple DV skills. It also influenced my choice of career - working for the web at the BBC lets me utilise my many fragmentary technical skills - such as solo DV shooting, editing etc, but put them into a bigger context. Or at least, a bigger hands on context than I would have got as a secretary...

I'm a great beleiver in the code in a website being as elegant as the visible surface. I think it's part of my training in fine art - especially print making - that's left me with a desire to make 'well made' things. I've never been as shocked as when I discovered that the most talented (and highest graded) sculptor in my year at college didn't know how to bend a right angle in a piece of wire.

I'm constantly shocked that whenever I'm looking at hiring people to work on the site, people question me when I stipulate that my editorial staff should be comfortable working in HTML. It's breathtaking - I simply can't understand why someone who has been working on websites for several years wouldn't have a rudimentary grasp of good practice in terms of folder structures, image compression etc. It's the equivalent of that wire bending when you find someone who is confused by tables after several years in the trade.

So, the rather long winded point I'm making is to do with professional pride. Making buildings that are adaptable - and websites that are rational - stems from the craftsman's pride, not the professional's ego. It's a case of ensuring that you are doing your current job to the best of your ability, and with a clear understanding of the limitations and advantages of your substrate. Too many people seem to carry on doing things as a stepping stone - this is nearly what I want to do, but not quite, so I'll do it halfheartedly. Why not throw yourself into it, and wring every last drop of learning out of what you're doing? Take pride in your work and you will do it well - and thus progress quicker.

I think the beauty of taking the photographs to document the hidden parts of the building is partly because it enables future users of your building to maintain it better. But it's also an absoulute testament to a job well done. The kind of builders that use empty coke cans to space the plasterboard walls in Barratt homes are not the kind of builders that I'd want working on my house; they're also not the kind of builders that would be documenting the underlying structure of their work.

They are pretty ingenious, though - it just happens that a coke can is _exactly_ the right size to space the walls; and there are lots of them to be reused on a site.

(Link via Dan at City of Sound)

Monday, June 07, 2004

Notcon - file hosting

I might be able to help with hosting audio files from NotCon. If my sysops don't notice, of course. Leave a comment against this post to get in touch with me...

A thought - about books

Am having a lot of thoughts at the moment about how you could make a WMP/iTunes type application for monitoring books.

Now, kinda hard, as books are, well, big blocks of printed paper, and I'm not giving them up for anything.

But the ISBN number would seem to be the best way of tracking a book - it's a UID.

So... what would happen if you could create a google-like text ads service that looked at the metadata of whatever page (or mp3) you were looking at (listening to) and reccomended you an honest to goodness ink and tree book on the subject?

And then also looked at clickthroughs etc to relate peoples likes and dislikes.

I want an app that marries my record collection, my bookshelf, my browsing habits and my amazon ratings, and uses it to dispense timely reccomendations to me.

Well, I sort of do, only I would end up bankrupt.

What would happen, too, if it lived on your mobile? So you could tap in an ISBN in a bookshop and get it added to your system?

Nigritude Ultramarine: Nigritude Ultramarine

Nigritude Ultramarine: Nigritude Ultramarine

I don't like Search Engine Optimisation companies either. The whole assumption seems to bend around the fact that you can fool someone into buying something by dragging them in off the street.

Because flyering and 'Golf Sale' signs work so well, don't they?

Friday, May 28, 2004

w w w . i s h k u r . c o m

w w w . i s h k u r . c o m

An interactive guide to dance / elctronic music genres. Neat.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Mobile Thoughts

One of the key things that has made money for mobile providers is personalisation - ringtones, fascias, ringback tones... the things that make your mobile stand out in the pub, distinguish it from your friends' phones, and make it easy to tell it's your phone ringing on a crowded bus.

So... by extension. With new WAP/web services, and 3g and all that mullarkey...

Is your mobile your access point to your personalised slice of cyberspace? Your blog access point, your own walled garden, set up as you want it. Your link into your YASNS network. Your playlist device, your EPG...

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Sex code bracelets

Via Die Puny Humans, and the New York Post Online Edition

Kids are wearing bracelets to signify sex acts. A bit like a resurgence of the 70s gay hanky code.

The thing that got me was a quote from one of the mums...

Megan's mother, Michelle Stecher, 33, originally thought it was an innocent fashion fad.

"I thought it was an outrageous Britney Spears phase, like Madonna used to do in the '80s with the black rubber bracelets," she said. "But when I found out, I was outraged. I sent her to Catholic school to avoid things like this. I thought this could never, ever happen there."

Yeeeees. And the thing about convent girls is...?

Pandagon: Insert Snarky Title Here

Pandagon: Insert Snarky Title Here


Thursday, May 20, 2004

In 2 years time... -- Happy Desegregation Day

Equality for my people is beginning to happen.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Dumb Songs

A quick linkdump of some really dumb music:

Food safety music - Microbes They Might Kill You! is a particularly inspired reqorking of Queen's 'We Will Rock You'. With a food safety message.

Dr. Chordate Biology, Plus... - A reworking of Elvis becomes 'Ain't Nothing but a ground Hog'. 'Furrier than Thou' is pretty special, too.

Greg Crowther has written a song about Pi. And one called 'Take me to the Liver'

There will be more, I know it...

Monday, May 17, 2004

Future Broadcast Production - Mad thoughts

I've been thinking about collaborative filtering. - it's SO relevant to imp/tivo/epg/pvr culture. Imagine if the BBC could set the standards for TV-programme id3 tags?

The implications are huge.

Just before the first day of a shoot, the continuity lady marks up a script on a computer - with reference to the shooting schedule. This then gets donwloaded to a pda-enabled clapper board. At the head of every shot on set, the clapperloader sends tag info to the camera by bluetooth during preroll, so the scene details and script are automatically recorded on the 'tape' at the head of the scene.And Lets face it, tapes should just be hot-swappable 100 gig hard drives in a year or two...

The director's monitor has an 'approve' feature - so when the shot is 'the one', a signal can be sent to the camera to mark it as being the shot for the final assembly. Any comments or notes could go up to - again, by pda.

Thinking about it, you wouldn't actually need to store the data on the tapes - the camera would just need to broadcast synch timecode to keep all of the devices cued up.

Then you don't need to log tapes etc for editing, or rewrite script for subtitling. And instead of just finished programmes being available to search in archives, every scene of the rushes is fully marked up with cast, crew, script, location...

To capture a clip for net use, you just perform a contextual search on the info in the bbc's huge media database at I&A... and say 'squirt on to the server in this format at this bitrate, please'. of course, in a few years time, networks will be fast enough to take broadcast-quality video, so compression ceases to be an issue. (If anyone ever gets round to laying fibre optic cables... but what would happen if TV wavelengths were used for ubiquitous 'broadband by radio'?)

And to broadcast, you just send a 'playlist' to the broadcast centre, and the show streams from the media server, assembled on the fly.

Rights issues or editorial issues can be tagged in the video files data container - so no need to check, the system automatically notifies you if there's an issue with reusing footage.

And, once broadcast, the return path from the audience can be used to aggregate viewing figures, ratings, preferences... and the public slice of information kept available for Imp/Tivo/pvr users to navigate around a sea of content by aggregated reccomendations from the entire viewing public.


Sunday, May 16, 2004

Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas any more...

Boing Boing: Tornado sucks up entire house


Collaborative CD Stacks

Well, I in the FUCKING office on a FUCKING sunday, having also been here most of FUCKING saturday. Ont eh plus side, I'm actually doing some design and code of a webpage (the reason I like this job). On the downside, I have a v. pissed off fiance at home, who is feeling utterly neglected by my lack-of-attendance in the premarital home, and also my general mein of distraction bought on by stress, fatigue and large doses of antidepressants.

Note to self - put in a bit of work on the relationship - after all, she bought you diamonds.

So, anyway, as traditional, I've spent the first hour 'doing the rounds of the internet' - geting my information fix. And boy, have I found some good stuff. Not only is the fantastic Alice Taylor blogging from e3, but Martin Belam has been nice about me, and also I've discovered a collaborative playist aggregator Mixmatcher via Dan Hill.

Now... I had a very interesting (and, OK, drunken) chat with the iD&E gods of code, Matt and Alistair on friday, about ratings, reccomendations and other such stuff. And I'm mulling over an idea.

So, here's the deal. I've just got an ipod, and itunes. And I've got 400 CDs that I keep in a very specific 2-D classification system. Imagine 6 stacks, equivalent to genre. Then imagine that the lower down the stack you go, the lower the rating of the cd in that genre. (Actually, this has changed recently to a slightly simpler alpabetisation in some areas, as Sarah couldn't find anything)

Now, my genres are very personal. Going left to right....

Dance for distracting myself
Good Dance music, for actually listening to.
Girly SingerSongwriters
Art Rock
Other rock I don't really want to listen to very often

Now, none of the genres that are offered by a lot of the CD Databases seem to fit the music. Electronica is just one big bin of stuff, and I have a lot of CDs that fall into that category. And are the Velvet Underground really 'indy'? Surely that's an 80s thing?

So... I checked out the wikipaedia, and it has a very interesting collaborative start on defining subgenres.

But... how do I know which of my music fits in to a predefined subgenre? It's a pretty subjective thing. But one that could be solved by consensus.

So I started thinking about a rating system, done in a similar way to Urban collaborative moderation interface - if you appreciate the site, you can spend ten minutes winnowing their data for them - using a very simple 'Agree-Disagree-Don't Know' interface.

So... what happens if you could do that in Itunes / Gracenote / FreeDB?

And what would happen if, say, the google toolbar had 3 options to say 'Likey/don'tlikey/don'tknow' once you've hit a results page?

For a very small outlay of time, we can start building useful relational information about data (ie, turning the Data on the internet into Information - or maybe the information into knowledge?).

So, can someone build me a collaborative music genre machine? please?

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Domestic Robots - the way of the future

Leave It to Roll-Oh - a vision of domestic harmony, run by a giant Robot.

I... Want.... one...

It's like the biggest cigarette lighter in the world, and it scares postmen. AND it's got a button on it's control that says 'Get Hat'.

Watch the movie using the left hand panel. Joy.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Oliver Postgate - Articles

The estimable Mr. Postgate has started publishing writings on his own website.

It's a sort of slow blog, appropriate for one of his sagacity and years.

Oliver Postgate - Articles

Doggles - Doggles

Like a U2 tribute act, but with less legs. - Blik Invaders - Blik Invaders

Want. Want Want Want.

Someone should invent a website-agnostic wish list facility. I adore Amazons' wish list, primarily because it gives you nearly the same hit as _actually_ ordering stuff, whilst being less likely to send your credit card into meltdown.

But I've got to the stage where I use it so much, I miss it when I find something _not_ on amazon.

So, some kind of Blogroll 'purchase list' that combines your amazon wishlist (well, obviously) with a selection of links to other shopping sites would be good.

And maybe would result in less packages turning up on my desk at random.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

outdated but important

Push technology - an article from wired from 1997

That nonetheless, is relevant if maligned.

300 Images From 1800 Sites

300 Images From 1800 Sites

A beautiful collection of tiny icons.

I wonder what the print equivalent would be?

Friday, April 30, 2004

I am a sufferer

Five Geek Social Fallacies: "Geek Social Fallacy #4: Friendship Is Transitive
Every carrier of GSF4 has, at some point, said:
'Wouldn't it be great to get all my groups of friends into one place for one big happy party?!'
If you groaned at that last paragraph, you may be a recovering GSF4 carrier.
GSF4 is the belief that any two of your friends ought to be friends with each other, and if they're not, something is Very Wrong."

die puny humans:

die puny humans: the universe may be trumpet shaped.

The first thing I though when I saw this was... Hey, if you kind of folded it round a bit, and back on itself (mental process a bit like someone making a balloon dog goes on)... You'd get a Klein Bottle.

That's the kind of universe I want to live in.

Oh, by the way, I'm engaged. And, fingers crossed, by the date we've set to marry, we'll be able to 'marry' legally. Woot!

Monday, April 19, 2004

London Underground Guide - information and fun on the world's oldest subway system with Going Underground

London Underground Guide - information and fun on the world's oldest subway system with Going Underground

Tube announcements.

BBC - Radio 1 - Ten Hour Take Over

BBC - Radio 1 - Ten Hour Take Over

I think the demographic of Radio One may be slightly different to that which they imagine.

I mean, I know 2manydjs rock, but these people are requesting Dolly Parton, Rainbow and Babylon f*****g zoo. They're all about 30 and pining for their misspent teenage years, or trying to be knowingly ironic.

On the other hand, it could just be that really strange stuff is now considered classic.

On the plus side, at least someone chose Steevie Wonder doing Superstition.

Via Dan Hill at City of Sound

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

London Director system exchange names

Or, in less geeky speak - the original text messaging!
London Director system exchange names

My mother still has the occasional slip and refers to london numbers as Archway blah-blah-blah-blah. Which is charming (as is her habit of occasionally converting prices into pounds, shilling and pence without seeming to actually think about it).

I'm gutted to discover that my old phone number still had it's proper code

(Peckham 7762, please, operator!) whereas I'm now in some pseudo-exchange. Stonegrove, in Edgeware? Pah.

All you geowonks, take note - better make sure you've got enough space in your FOAF and GeoURL codes to write smart names into the data.

Telegraph | Arts | 'I am a young woman. I have sex for money. And I love to write. This is my story...'

Belle in the Telegraph: "here are interesting, well-spoken people for whom the explicit commodification of sex is preferable to the hawthorn thicket of modern relationships."

My main problem with the hysteria and 'It's all a fake' arguments going round is that knocking it makes a rather insidious assumption; namely that any woman who is a prostitute is too stupid to write or operate a computer.

I don't think this is the case.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

luvly: Why do people give up weblogs?

luvly: Why do people give up weblogs?

Becasue they are fickle and eaqsily bored, and theres only so long you can sustain teenage navel gazing?

Monday, March 22, 2004

Oh, and when I said I'm having an internal week...

Sometimes, juxtapositions in blog posts add a whole new level of meaning...

I used to be Belle De Jour, but I Drifted

dotdew: Who Is Belle de Jour?

Damn, someone else did a whois lookup of

I'd go with the 'probably an A' theory.

I want to believe. But I did have my doubts after the description of self-fisting. S/he must have long arms, or do yoga, or something, because it takes a degree of contortion I don't think I could accomplish, RSI aside.

I can't imagine it being a fun thing, as much as something that would give you a rather odd sense of personal achievement.

Oh So Quiet

Not been posting much because I haven't had much to say.

Having an internal week or two.

However, things that have been interesting me... include the ConCon UK

Having met a nice lady at a work party and had possibly the most enthusiastic conversation ever about RSS feeds (geek, geeek, geeeeek!)...

I want to start a fortnightly meet. In a pub. Where lots of interesting folk can come along and talk nonsense and drink beer.

Because I'm bored of never being able to engage with ideas with anyone.

I'll set up an email list, or something, and do the organising. We could do it on a weeknight so we can have those reqesite work hangovers and a sense of achievement / befuddlement the next day.

The rules -
Polite skepticism. Challenge people, but let them be wrong if they need to be.
Look outside the group for inspiration - none of this everdecreasingcircles of navelgazing, it's about getting out of ruts.
Consideration - if someone doesn't get it, explain it to them. Good explainations are a skill we can all use.

Anyone up for it?

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

I find this a bit confusing

Turtle TV - Free Video Downloads with an Amphibious Twist

Yep, someone's recreated popular films using live terrapins as the actors.

Very... very odd.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Digital Windolene Geeks and the Dijalog Lifestyle [Feb. 18, 2004]: " ...humans have in their nature a tendency to collect lots of things which are similar but distinct; and that tendency includes an urge to order those collections according to some ordering scheme.

We do this in part because such collections offer us a means of ordering our own histories; for some of us, our media collections are props for the narrative, the lived drama, of our lives."

As a lady who spent a day and a half of her week off putting her CDs in order (and, I hasten to add, cleaning the accumulated Peckham fagash off the cases with windolene) this seems pertinent.

One of the problems with digital media is their lack of tangibility. they don't get 'worn' as they're loved. There's no patina. There's no seductive nostalgia about an old file - it's as crisp as when it's bits were burnt.

I've been trying to design a new template for the blog that feels lived in; it just looks forced.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Mihtmlton Keynes Books: Online Communities: Supporting Sociability, Designing Usability: "If the phrase 'planned community' makes you think of terrible homogenous suburbs, take another look at the Internet. "

There's food for thought. What if all the care that we're taking over communities now is as shoddy as the design of the human factors in many of the new towns of the 50s? Are we all theory over humanity?

Perhaps I should reread the suburbia book again...


Lost about an hour yesterday to The Word Spy. It's a site devoted to the scholarly snark-hunt of neologisms. I'd forgotten how much I love watching new language emerge. Puppy Leave and Pomosexual are faves so far.

I can across Paracopyright, too: ( n. A set of non-traditional copyright-related principles, practices, and laws that exist alongside and attempt to extend traditional copyright protection.

There was a fairly chilling quote on there that I pinged off to Piers -

> For example, the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) contains
> provisions that make it illegal to create or "traffic in" products
> that can be used to circumvent built-in copyright protection. In other
> words, the definition of a copyright violation has been extended from
> the illegal copying or selling of a work to merely creating a tool
> that might enable other people to do so. This is far removed from
> traditional copyright protection, hence the term "paracopyright for
> such provisions.
> Now... does it strike you that, just possibly, the biro could be
> included in such a category? As could copyandpaste?

And his reply is priceless, and should be printed on Tshirts:

But these guys are fighting the printing press, and Gutenberg's already released his bible.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Tech History

A network called 'Internet' - Strange how the lack of the definite article makes it sound really, really wrong.

Friday, February 13, 2004


matt jones on a collaborative mapping excercise involving coin tosses.

It worked fine until they got near the beach.

Interesting that he mentions that 'rules are good because they help you work out what you want to do by breaking them'.

It's a bit like my 'making a decision by tossing a coin' - you know instantly if the coin has made the 'wrong' decision, because you get a powerful negative reaction to the outcome.

Which suddenly made me think... didn't I steal that from Terry Pratchett?

Are all of the great BBC technorati actually just recycling ideas from hack comedy scifi?

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Welcome to Principia Cybernetica Web

Welcome to Principia Cybernetica Web

Read Me

Google Search: Sebaceous Cyst

Well, off to hospital for the first time since childhood tomorrow. To see a plastic surgeon, no less.

So, which do you think it'll be... a Sebaceous Cyst or a Lipoma?

One of these images is not safe for work like the others, kids.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Wiki Wiki Boom Boom have created an oral history wiki of the late 90s London new media scene...

Core77 Articles: Insanely great, or just good enough?

Core77 Articles: Insanely great, or just good enough?

More design thinking - this is a bookmark post.

Woo and Indeed Yay, Now here is the news.!!:
"I outline my background and my 5-point plan for the BBC on my campaign website (, but here I would just stress one point. The BBC currently gives far too much airspace to the views of people who know things. Despite making great strides in the right direction over the last few years, the BBC still privileges knowledge, intellect, and insight over ignorance, stupidity and prejudice. And that's got to stop! Apart from anything else, so-called 'experts' - Professors and the like - cost lots of our money. All those years of 'learning' don't come cheap. But thick people will appear on TV for a can of Tizer and a bag of chips. A People's Beeb, with me at the helm, would make more use of them!"

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Yahoo - A Guide to WWW

Yahoo - A Guide to WWW

I remember the days...

When Yahoo was the best way to surf the web. When the only browser was Mosaic. When FTP was called fetch. When Newsgroups were a way to meet new people. When Ascii art was the only way to show someone a map...

Smart Mob - politics stylee

I meant to write this up on thursday, day of the DG Dgoing.

The protest that formed out front of TVC was a smart mob.

At 1.46pm I got an email from outside the BBC saying Greg had resigned. Someone in the department sent on at 1.44pm - I picked it up a bit afterwards.

Everyone turned on News 24, fired up the BBC news site, and went 'What?'.

A little while later I checked the messageboards on our intranet. Someone broke the news there at 1.42. At 1.59pm the first mention of a walk out at 3 is posted.

2.38 - I pinged the gateway link to the junkmail list.

We all start talking about walking out. Were the unions supporting us? Our union officer didn't have a clue, and bectu weren't answering the phone.

Greg's 'I'm Leaving' email came round. Most people sent a personal message back to him. Everone started feeling tired and emotional - Hutton has come on top of the DCMS review for online, and we're feeling a bit picked on, frankly.

Emails ping around the department - one saying 'Well, I'm going, and if no-one is there, I'll pretend I'm going to the garage for some pringles.'

2.30 - naysayers appear on the intranet talk boards - 'It'll play in to the hands of commercial channels'
2.42pm - a complete thread is started - Rumours of a 3pm walkout
3pm - a bunch of people look out of the windows of our offices - they overlook TVC. There are about ten people in a small huddle out front, with a TV camera on them.

A group decision is made - six or eight of us walk out to join them.

Our union rep starts shouting. 'What do we want? Return of Dyke. When do we want it? Now!'. I get embrrassed, and start trying to make people think about why they're there. It's not political, really - it's about expressing shock that Greg stood down.

More people join us - mostly from online departments. We figure it's because they're in front of email all the time, and use talk-gateway.

3.19 - pictures of us appear on news 24

By 3.30 there are a hundred or so of us, and two girls from radio asking us for quotes. I refuse, too scared of getting in trouble for not consulting my line manager before I open my mouth on BBC buisiness.

People are texting and ringing friends around the bbc, telling them to watch the news, telling them to take action, too. Lots of camera phones in evidence.

More people slowly trickle on. My entire department is there by 4pm. Apparently, one of our execs just walked around saying - go, go out there. Go on, show your support. Emails are flying around the BBC - this department has walked, they're out in Manchester, out in glasgow... People are ringing mobiles in the crowd, reporting on media coverage, telling us what is going on...

In the growing crowd, we realise that we can't see the ends anymore. People start turning up with hastily printed placards. The police turn up and stop us standing in the road. Everyone is friendly, chatting, cheering whenever a car beeps us.

4.30 - A rumour shoots round the crowd - Greg is coming. Things go up a notch. There are a good thousand people there by now - on both sides of the street. Photographers and news crews are threading in and out of the crowd. I'm trying deperately to stay off camera - mostly because I'm chain smoking, and my mum is bound to see me on telly, fag in mouth.

An ITN crew runs along the road at full pelt. Somethings up. Everyone breaks ranks - Greg is here. The crowd mobs him - one guy, sitting on a lamppost, appoints himself unofficial steward, and hushes everyone.

The only words I hear are 'Thankyou'. Three women next to me in the crowd are hugging each other and crying.

So - the crowd, emotional and upset, gathered and organised by email, messageboard, SMS and mobile call. And once the crowd reached a certain size, the dynamic became consensual, not individual. It was one of the strangest experiences of my life.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Broken TIVOs, unlinked boxes

The future of the BBC is mobile, according to 'the kids' - January 22, 2004 - currybetdotnet

Martin Belam - one of the admirable pointyheads that _thinks_ about stuff in this place - has put up an interesting post about the way children aren't differentiating about how they consume their media.

I've been in a lot of conversations recently where people think about linking stuff together.

Whereas, the people that use our content link it together in their own way. They edit shows (and edit out adverts) by channel flicking. They use EPGs and the Radio Times to make choices about their activities.

And kids, it seems, see no difference in which shiny box they use to consume their content.

It's not even a brand affiliation as far as I can tell - it's like they have an ambient media stream around them, and they just dip in and out as they feel the need. Although it sounds like push, via SMS, as a reminder to check up on something, is useful to kids.

I'm guessing it's the same way I use RSS.

Bouncing off the back of the posts I've been reading about social networks and recomendations....

The most useful service you could provide to people is a way of alerting them to things that may be of interest to them - and then tracking whether they follow your 'leads' or not, to refine your reccomendations.

So, a way of helping them manage media overload - email, SMS, Telly programmes, whatever - and filter through the really important stuff.

And I think having a personality behind those reccomendations provides trust. People trust their friends, and certain sources of information.

Is it possible to collect such a big sample of usage data, that your engine becomes trusted because it is so accurate? Well, yes - Amazon and (really obvious, this one) Google.

Or do you get the beatles and bach effect, where the things that everyone likes float to the top?

Wildlife - distorting the truth

Only the eagle-eyed will spot a fake...

Interesting to see that - in the wake of all of the sexing up floating about at the moment - someone's blown the whistle on the way that dear Auntie has been manipulating the truth for years.

Wildlife documentaries.

Seriously - watch closely next time, and see if you can spot where disparate shots of different animals have been pasted together to create a 'story'. It's the anthropomorphic drive coupled with the need for entertainment and narrative in information-based programmes.

Of course, the real trick is spotting when they composite footage, or add CGI whales. Harder to spot than you'd think in undersea documentaries, becasue of the different way that masses behave in water. It gets over that 'feet on the floor' weight issue you get in so much CGI.