Monday, January 31, 2005

American History E

In the Library of Congress Classification System is being touted on O'Reilly's as a useful tool for organising your books collection.

The great thing about it is that it uses letters of the alphabet to break down all human knowledge into top level classifications. And TWO of those - E and F - are for History:America. D is for History (general) and history of Europe. Military Science and Naval Science get their own letters, too.

And they say that classification systems are influenced by the culural assumptions of the classificatee. Who knew?

Please, point your browsers and laugh at: The Library of Congress Comes Home

Bottersnikes and Gumbles

Over Sunday dinner last night, someone suddenly recalled Bottersnikes and Gumbles. Or at least, they said 'What was that book with the horrible ugly creatures and the cute squishy on...' and three people said 'Bottersnikes and Gumbles!' instantly, and were very very surprised to find themselves sat around a table with others who fondly remembered the book, too.

I, foolishly, said ' You know, I remember them so well I bet I can draw you one' - and did a strange rendition that looked a bit like the really cack handed EH Sheperd Roo drawing from Winnie The Pooh. The other guest then went 'That's Crap! They looked like *this*. Of course, we went to the internet to solve the argument.

It turns out that each of us had remembered a different Gumble from the stack of Gumbles on the cover...

So - a challenge - draw your own Gumble-From-Memory before clicking the link...

59_1_b.JPG (JPEG Image, 400x300 pixels)

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Fo' Siznit in the Riznit.

I'm in awe of Gene Kelly. The man is amazing, and appears to work by a slightly different set of laws of gravity to us earthbound mortals. If you want proof, look at my flickr stream...

But anyway, this is a roundabout way of pointing you to this marvelous advert.

There's an awkward articulation when he's leaning against the lamppost (it's so hard to marry faces to necks - I suspect that few compositors have intimate anatomical knowledge) but otherwise - is pretty seamless.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Risk Factor: Depression

Risk Factor: Depression

NNDB is a tracker for information about notworthy folk.

It is cheering to know I am in such good company.

I feel I ought - for the record - to blog something about the utterly miserable time I'm having right now, but I've decided to take the wonderfully english strategy of *completely ignoring* it.

On the plus side, stopping the drugs is returning my short term memory (I hadn't realised just how bad it had got, which is alarming) and my creative impulses are coming back, slowly.

I get so tired of living with the black dog that the drugs were the only option. I just need to remember that they take away a very fundamental part of my personality, too.

Meth Photo Galleries

Via Kottke - faces before and after meth addiction.

I guess I don't have to worry about this any more.

Another Great Privacy Policy...

OK, a bit of a dull thing to blog about, but I've found another priceless privacy policy on a scam site. I was after some codecs to play... errm, completely legitimate downloads, and of course the top ten sites in google for the codec pack I was after were _all_ scam sites designed to grab creditcard numbers from the unwary.

It amuses me that these scammers put privacy policies on their sites. Particularly when they forget to change the boilerplate placeholders...

How You Can Access Or Correct Your Information:

You can access all your personally identifiable information that we collect online and maintain by [description of the company access procedure]. We use this procedure to better safeguard your information.

Moral of the story - avoid Kazaalite - Klite like the plague.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Parlez Polari?

Brilliant little film about the old 'dialect' of the carnies and the queers. It's lovely to hear people using polari properly - native speakers, as it were. It's coming back into vogue after the revivals of Round the Horne, and Julian and Sandy. Apparently, Madame JoJos is encouraging it's staff to 'Speak Polari' - you know it must be a genuine trend when the Today Programme reports on it.

Note to self - must use more polari in everyday speech.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

No Sadie She

Emma Kennedy: "not one that does the catwalk and the drug addictions"

Oh, good, that's put my mind at rest.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

We value your custom

This Privacy Policy is really special. It seems to hinge around the concept of

Yes, we have a privacy policy. We take your personal information and do stuff with it. This stuff is a service to you. really. Can we say that again? We're providing a service to you. We take your privacy very seriously. But we're not going to tell you exactly what stuff we'll do with your information, appart from taking it seriously. We're especially not going to tell you what services we'll provide you with.

Let me take a guess - spyware and spam? Oh, goody, just what I wanted.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

collision detection: Can you think better when you're typing?

collision detection: Can you think better when you're typing?

Boy, I wish Blogger would impliment trackback.

Anyway, this is just to point to a story about my dad I've added to a discussion about handwriting vs typing and cognitive effects on language and thought process.

Friday, January 21, 2005

SIRC - Passport to the Pub Chapter 1

SIRC - Passport to the Pub Chapter 1: "In bars and cafes in other parts of the world, waiter service can isolate people at separate tables, which makes it more difficult to initiate contact with others. Perhaps many cultures are more naturally outgoing and sociable than the British, and do not require any assistance in striking up a conversation with those seated near them.

The British, however, are a somewhat reserved and inhibited people, and we need all the help we can get! It is much easier to drift casually into a spontaneous chat while waiting at the bar than deliberately to break into the conversation at another table. Like every other aspect of pub etiquette, the no-waiter-service system is designed to promote sociability.

This is very good news for tourists who wish to make contact with the natives. The bar counter in a pub is possibly the only site in the British Isles in which friendly conversation with strangers is considered entirely appropriate and normal behaviour."

This is particularly magnificent. It goes on to describe just how the 'invisible queue' forms at the bar, and the means we employ to get the barmaid's attention.

Organised chaos: What happens when you replace the word "blogging" with "thinking"?

Organised chaos: What happens when you replace the word "blogging" with "thinking"?: "Anyone who derives their power from hierarchy or gate-keeping knowledge is in for a rude surprise. This particularly applies to managers and politicians who are often the worst offenders. My generation and the way we interact, converse, grow and learn will fundamentally change the world and for the better."

Henry By George, she's got it! By George, she's got it!

Blogging for me is like thinking out loud. Those who socialise with me know that once I get going (about a pint and a half going) I tend to hold forth on just about any subject. My friends are very patient, and indulge me in this. I also tend to 'verbally annotate' a lot - people who sit near me in the office must find it hugely irritating, but they indulge me.

I suspect the reason I do this is that I'm not aware of 'structuring my thought processes' in any way. I'm amazed at people who think things through, and come to decisions. That just doesn't happen for me: talking out loud, or making notes here (I write pretty much the same way I talk) is a way of *remembering* what I think about, and of processing my thoughts.

So, the blog - despite it's discalmatory tone, and it's habit of playing to the crowd - isn't much more than a filing system for my thoughts.

The reason I've been surprised, is that the process of getting things up on the blog, and the related pleasures of RSS reading has created a new semi-professional semi-friendly network based around shared interests. Suddenly, I know what's going on in other areas of my own workplace, because I read about it on other's personal sites.

I'd say that the number of people in who maintain blogs is actually going to affect the physical structure of the corporations website. There are suddenly enough of us connected together, in a way that exposes the function of the web and makes you think about the bbc site as a cohesive whole, experienced by the user, that I think there will be a steady change towards the bbc site become an integrated, navigable experience, rather than the loose affiliation of cantons it currently is.

Or something.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Virtual Tour of the Pitt Rivers Museum

Virtual Tour of the Pitt Rivers Museum

QT Panoramas! Museum cases full of *madness*! Joy! joy!

Pomo Aerobics

Ministry of Sound

Words Fail Me...


A Very Fine Advert.

Americans just won't get it.

The Shouty Track

Broadcast - The Shouty Track

A very, very fine video for ver Jelly's new single.

I had a great time doing metal salutes to this at the somerset house gig. Happy days.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

"Coast is clear - go for it!"

"Coast is clear - go for it!"
"Coast is clear - go for it!",
originally uploaded by BombDog.
Magnificent Photo.

There's a lovely story told by my husband's ex-boyfriend. He was out cruising for trade on Clapham Common one night, and caught the eye of an obliging and very beautiful chap with gorgeous shoulder length blonde hair. This adonis among men proceded to... do what the Lemur is doing.

So L, the H's E-B is leaning with his back against a tree, having... attention lavished on him, when he sees a very large gentleman walking down the path towards them. As this gentleman approaches, LtH'sEB sees more and more detail: the Pit Bull. The Shaved head. The bomber jacket. The stare.

LTHsEB is torn. He's obviously at high risk of being queerbashed, but his... lemury chum is *completely unaware* of the slow-approaching peril. Duck season... rabbit season... what to do? Break off a perfectly lovely encounter, and run for it, or hope the very large skinhead passes them by?

LTH'sEB prevaricates. with every passing second the skinhead draws closer, as does LTH'sEB.

... and decides that he's having far too much fun, and blow the consequences. As it were.

So... the very large skinhead draws level with the tree, looks LTH'sEB straight in the eye and says 'Nice one, mate'. As he walks away, he glances back over his shoulder, looks down, smiles, and says:

'Good Girl.'

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

foe romeo: Who's responsible for Technorati's tag results?

foe romeo: Who's responsible for Technorati's tag results?

Foe speaks lucidly about editorial responsibility.

... I'm not _massively_ surprised that Technorati came off a bit high and mighty - it's always struck me as being a site based on reinforcing arrogance of the... well, technorati. It's a bit snooty feeling, and nose-down-looking; but in that 'slightly too geeky to acknowledge social niceties' sort of way that a lot of people use as an excuse for rudeness.

Nice to see Dave Sifry responding in the comments though.

Transgenic art | Metafilter

Transgenic art | Metafilter

A Cactus with hair.

I remind you, dear MeFi, that Dr Who went the other way, first.

Fluxblog on I ♥ Huckabees

Fluxblog: The 19 Forbidden Notes Of The Boite Diabolique: "Naomi Watts is especially great, which suggests that she has been wasting too much time screaming and crying in shameless Oscar bait when she ought to be doing more comedy"

Absolutely correct. She's really rather fine in this kind of role.

it's a rather lovely film, by the way. I couldn't agree with my cinemate as to whether it's a critique (me) or affirmation (him) of therapy and self-actualisation culture. But whatever, it's got a sex scene involving a muddy puddle, Jude Law suckling a grown man and Shania Twain, not to mention a soundtrack by Jon Brion. We like.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Rss duh.

The Trademark Blog is upset that Bloglines is 'Creating a commercial derivative work' from it's RSS feed.

The privacy concerns are possibly valid - but, um, why not include your contact info in your RSS feed, sweets?

It's the bit where the author suggests 'Subscribing to one of the many RSS programs available'.

What, you mean an RSS programme like, uh, say, Bloglines?


Friday, January 14, 2005

The upside...

galactica03_1152.jpg (JPEG Image, 1152x870 pixels), I suppose, not having to feel guilty about the occasional leery bit of thigh rubbing.

Supper With The Stars

Supper With The Stars

Repertoire. Stu will keep you entertained with jokes and hilarious catchphrases.

Special Requirements. A bunch of grapes.

Please mummy, can we?

FAntastic b3ta this week. Rob has outshone himself with rude. The poor chap obviously doesn't give a damn any more.

Oh, and for the record, please note that popular geek email rag 'NTK' isn't nearly as good as Amateur Parapsychologists' Monthly. And I'd have whooped the imaginary Dave Green's ass at Blood Bowl, if he'd let me..

Zeitlupe/SloMo: Blogger-Fundsachen

Zeitlupe/SloMo: Blogger-Fundsachen

Er, anyone speak German? Is my blog _really_ about Design and Self Criticism?

BBC NEWS | UK | A design for (long) life

BBC NEWS | UK | A design for (long) life


The big button phone is indeed revolutionary for oldies. You can't imagine the problems my folks have. Their particular problem is when being asked to type in numbers on the keypad - they can't do it quickly enough and return the phone to their ear to hear the response from the system.

Design decisions like this are so subtle, but _so_ important.

Fuck Miss America

I've just read a really very sad account of a chap with AIDS losing his sight.

I'm really fortunate in that I came on to the gay scene a bit too late to lose my friends to HIV. By the time I was out, the worst of that constant cull of beautiful men passed me by. So the AIDS crisis is only real to me through stories.

However, it was truly brought home to me about two years ago, during a late night conversation. The night was spent talking life stories, and I heard the extraordinary tale of the girl who was adopted by Queens, and then had to watch whilst AIDS took all of her friends. Her life had been full of beads, glitter, royal balls, the pomp and circumstance of the American drag scene. And then her best friend moved from being positive, to having full blown AIDS, and she gave up her life to care for him. She wiped his shit up, she coped with his hallucinations, she managed his dementia and his drugs.

I can't tell you the most hearbreaking half of it.

That story was the start - there was falling in love, sometime during the crying. The first moment of a long, lush intimacy which was meant to last for the rest of our lives. And we were planning that time - the house, a family, shoring ourselves against the loss that both of us seem to constantly expect. The unlikeliness of finding the one was surprising, and felt too special to be real.

Well, it turns out it was.

My girlfriend has told me our relationship is over. We limped through christmas, not talking. The day after boxing day, as soon as we wouldn't be ruining christmas, it all happened. I still can't behave as if it is true, I still talk about it as if it were a live thing, and not history. As if I hadn't been read the verdict.

'I still love you... I'm just not in love with you any more'.

That is the only thing that has changed in my life - the formal rescinding of a promise. We still share our living space, our sleeping arrangements are the same, the bills are still in both our names, but all promises are off. I have to be supportive and kind whilst she changes her life to exclude me. I have to answer the phone to the new people she's fucking now. She has to watch me turn silent and grim and angry and withdrawn.

I know it's going to be bad, because I haven't started hurting yet.

Hamster Carnage

Joe. My. God.: Charlie & Buttercup

Fuck, that's one of the best blogposts I've read in a very long time. J.M.G., you really are a paragon among men.

6823 Surface Transport

6823 Surface Transport

The wheels on this one were really, really nice to chew.

It was one of the first with yellow spacemen, too.

Brickshelf Gallery

Brickshelf Gallery

Oh, god.

Soud Proust and his biscuits. I've literally just had the smell of my parent's livingroom carpet tiles waft in to my nostrils. A complete hallucination, of course, but triggered by seeing the lego I grew up with. None of that Bionicles shit... proper lego that just couldn't wait to embed itself in your parent's bare feet.

These are just burnt into my memory. I can look at them and say 'oh, that was the one you could get for free with weetabix... and that one was the first to have the bendy pipes...'

I feel a trip to Kingston coming on...

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Tant Pis

Emma Kennedy is having a bad day, the poor darling.

Her beagle peed in her laptop.

I don't think I've expressed my general admiration for Emma's writing before, but her blog really is most fine. She has a rather pleasant rambling turn of phrase, and a habit of using recurrring jokes, which I greatly appreciate. It all feels... Woodhousean, and makes me laugh out loud in the office, which only serves to reinforce my reputation for being odd.

For a famous person, she seems much too friendly, pleasant and jolly. I worry that she'll be tainted by celebrity and loose her natural, straightforward charm. Or become cynical, or be led astray by one of those Sadie Frost types into a life of designer frippery and casual drug abuse in fashionable soho members clubs.

It would be a waste.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Darth Vader vs Tony Benn >>> graphic art & fashion boutique

Heh. Would buy it instantly, but frankly 2.95 p&p for a 1.50 badge seems a bit shit.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Jesus and Blasphemers

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | TV and Radio | Actor defends Springer TV opera: "while a reported total of 8,000 obscenities was reached by adding every swear word sung by each member of the 27-strong chorus."

Aah. Well, there goes the credibility of the protesters outside my office window. Jesus blesses those who massage statistics, obviously...

It's the uttering of the filth that counts... even if it is simultaneous with 26 other utterances...

Thursday, January 06, 2005

South London Underground

South London Underground
South London Underground,
originally uploaded by nedrichards.
So, so cool.

Now on the Big Screen!

There's a good alertbox this month - Saint Jakob the Useable is back on form after a few off columns.

The bit about physical links, user-created organisation and search is chiming with a lot of thinking that I'm doing right now.

However, here's one bit I take severe umbrage to...

Reviving Advanced Hypertext (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox): "Once we get screens the size and resolution of a broadsheet newspaper, the user interface will change."

Hmn. Now, why are broadsheet papers the size they are? Do you know, children?


Sometime in the ?1800s, the government levied a tax on newspapers: and they levied it on a per page basis. So, the more pages you had in your paper, the more tax you paid.

Now, newspaper magnates, even in the 19th century, are nothing if not canny types. Their response to this was to increace the size of their pages. Same word count, less tax. Smart.

One paper got so smart, they printed the whole thing on a sheet the size of a blackboard, and just origami'ed it for ease of portability.

Previously, papers had been something between A4 and tabloid size - pretty much the maximum size it's comfortable to read without laying a paper flat on a table. All of the common design tropes of newspaper layout were adapted to facilitate the use of something that was just, frankly, too cumbersome to be used comfortably.

And what's happening in the UK? All of those broadsheets are going back to tabloid size. Why? Because a tabloid paper is about the same width as your shoulders.

It's related to the reason that things like plasterboard and MDF come in 8'x4' sheets. Rooms are often taller than 8', but an 8'x4' sheet is around about the maximum size your average builder can carry on his own - it's the size of an armspan, basically.* A tabloid the width of your shoulders is comfortable to hold and read. And you can read it on the tube without swamping your traveling companions in reams of folds.

Every other 'big screen' isn't about more in the display, it's about the same, but bigger and more lifelike. Can you imagine Sky trying to add an extra 4 hours or six channels on to their EPG because tellys are bigger? It would be illegible at the increaced distance needed for comfortable viewing.

The other thing to bear in mind is edges. I know Jakob is a devotee of text, but the web is about rich media too. Reading the equivalent of a broadsheet on a portable screen, clicking a hyperlink and getting a fullscreen video - the screen would extend into your peripheral vision. And the minute any big cameramoves happened, you'd get motionsick. Try watching the blair witch project from the front row of a cinema sometime. I guarantee you'll get seasick.

Now, at home I work at a very generous 1600x1200. But If I'm working with text in, say, word, I always end up 'fitting width to screen' - because it's the most comfortable reading experience. Imagine a high-res, wallsized screen. You're on your sofa, with your remote, reading from a distance of 8 feet or more. You'll want really big text, and it's not going to be comfortable. I bet there's field of view issues there, too - strain on the eye muscles...

The best you'll get is some very big headlines, and a dynamic focusy-zoomy change - a bit like the mac dock. But it'll be at best for distracted catch ups - serious reading will always be more comfortable on the handheld, A4 to tabloid scale.

*I have problems carrying four-bi'eight. Because I'm a girl with large breasts, so some of my span is taken up by holding the sheet away from my body, unbalancing me. If women were the socially dominant sex, you'd have five-bi'three instead. Actually, no you wouldn't - we'd get the blokes to do all the heavy lifting... wink.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

We're going to need a bigger lap...

A fantastic Craig's List post.

I feel rather sad that Craig's List has been bought by eBay. The internet just isn't what it used to be...