Saturday, September 24, 2005

Google master plan: service offerings

Finally, the path to the dark side becomes clear.

Involves 'tealeaves', apparently.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Bülitt Tåem

A very nice bit of flashvertising, from IKEA.

Via Gavin. Tags:

Hunting Friendly Infovores

You?re It!

So... I'm listening to Joshua Shachter et al chatting away at Etech via IT conversations, and idly looking at a blog about tagging too.

Now... I like tagging. It suits my slightly messy mindset, and fits in nicely with the way that I remember stuff. It's fun, and useful, and simple and quick, so I use it.

There are quite a lot of discussions going on about tagging around work at the moment. Obviously, we have some seriously heavy duty IAs, Data Modellers and whatnot around, so the discussions tend to degenerate quickly into a 'It's sloppy/It's great' sort of place - more due to a collision of paradigms that anything else.

Mr Coates posted about one of these conversations the other day; and made a comment that (I think) came out of a chat we'd had. And this is where the link to above comes in:

Here?s an analogy. I visit a lot of thrift stores. The true cost of an item in a thrift store is a function of the time it takes me to find it, not the price (which is always cheap). A very large thrift store is more likely to have what I want, but at a greater discovery cost. Like, a thrift store is great for serendipitous discovery but not so good for known item retrieval. Put another way, wouldn?t be your first choice if you needed articles on Rousseau and the French Revolution, just like the Sally Ann wouldn?t be your first choice if you needed a smoking jacket, size 42T.

OK - so it's not as easy to pinpoint very precise information with a folksonomic system. I can't disagree with that. That's what google is for.

But the benefit you get from such a fuzzy, messy system works on the personal level. If you found it, and tagged it, you're more likely to be able to find it again under your personal filing system than, say, a Dewey Decimal system.

And the point where it becomes *really* useful to have things in big rummage bins is when you're browsing.

This is the pleasure of the charity shop (that's thrift store to you AmeriCanadians). It is the pleasure of having a mooch about; it isn't focused searching for one particular thing, it's finding something you didn't really know you wanted, but that gives you immense pleasure when you find it. For example, a copy of an out of print book by a favourite author. A Vivienne Westwood Tshirt for 50p. An insanely funny old record.

This is what offers; a way of finding websites you didn't know you needed. You can very easily specify the kind of thing you're interested in (well - as long as it's a bit geeky or involves naked chicks, in's case) using a tag then you can rely on distributed serendipity to find it. The numbers of people using the system mean that the work of looking for that exciting, tangential nugget of infotainment gold in the bottom of the brantub is distributed, and the things that would be overlooked are found.

It's about finding out something new, not checking up for that verifiable piece of information; about broadening the edges of your knowledge, not deepening it.

Does that make any sense at all? Probably not. But the thing to remember is that people use the web differently. And not just one person to another - an individual will use the web differently at different times; having a tool that suits your mood or mindset is only of benefit. We, the people wot make stuff for computers, tend to make stuff in our own image. Let's acknowledge that not everyone likes the way we make stuff.

Stop worrying about using one, or the other. Use both. Overlay two maps on to the territory.

And another point; the quote above assumes that time=money. This is a fallacy; I can afford to invest time into looking for that tux that fits. I will invest more time into looking for that tux that fits that is half the price of the one in the high-street shop. Financial and Temporal richness do not always map directly on to one another in the personal sphere; only in the sphere of business, and even then not very well.

Folksonomy is about the pleasure of the chase.

Technovia: What to do when a PC goes wrong

Technovia: What to do when a PC goes wrong

Loads of other folk - including BoingBoing - have pointed to this already. But just in case mates that read this haven't found it elsewhere...

It's a really useful guide to your rights if you need to return electronic kit that goes wrong.

And my boy wrote it. Isn't he clever? Aaaah.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Boing Boing: Legos site treats visitors to lecutre on correct trademark use

Boing Boing: Legos site treats visitors to lecutre on correct trademark use

Oh, Cory, really.

It's just you American types that refer to Lego Bricks in that funny plural form.

To the rest of us, it's always sounded dumb... :-)

Monday, September 19, 2005

Typetester ? Compare fonts for the screen

Via Colskee, a lovely tool for testing CSS typography on screen. Lets you fiddle with font, spacing and alignment, see what it looks like, then spit out the CSS for it.

Not sure how good the CSS might be, but it's fun, anyway...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

french for toes - Google Search


In the course of trying to make an elaborately situationist and intellectual joke in french, I realised that I do not know the French word for toes.

Luckily, in this day and age, the internet will contain this knowledge.

Won't it?


Google Blog Search

...but why would I *want* to search just blogs?

I can't see that 'blogs' are a useful subset of 'the internet' - I do get a feeling that this is more about exploiting the 'claim your blog' ego-boost dynamic to favour static sites over personal opinion pieces in the google index?

Tags: Tags:

Thursday, September 08, 2005

So long, Technorati (

So... Technorati is borked beyond hope; well, it's not like we're paying for it.

But anyway - I was interested to read of an alternative on - I had a quick look, found it... somewhat counterintuitive to use, but as I needed to reccomend some ideas for tracking celeb mentions on the web, I pointed a colleague to it.

About ten minutes later she came over and said 'Think you better look at this...'

A search on 'The Queen' had turned up some beautifully lurid blowjob porn.

So... I'll be rethinking that strategy then.

It's an all-to-frequent problem with engineer designed products - they forget the editorial and social buffers they need to impliment to make a product useful, usable, and for that matter, safe for work.

False Positives: Technorati and Tags added with GreaseMonkey for users

False Positives: Technorati and Tags added with GreaseMonkey for users

Wheeeeeeeee! Not currently linking to my profile, but a bit of JS piggeryjokery shuold sort that out.

Oh, I'm all folksonomied up. w00t!

The Joy of SSX

Stop sniggering, you at the back there. That was an S in the middle.

The ever-spiffy 'Tips has posted a little heads up about SSX on the PSP. She's also mentioned that SSX is the only game her friend Paula will play, and enjoy.

Now, my ex, Sarah, generally despised computer games; had little interest in them despite being extremely tech literate, and used to get very bored of me playing Sim City, Civ, KOTOR etc for hours on end. To be honest, this played a small part in our eventual break up. I even got her the CSI game, as she was obsessed with the show and loved anything gory or forensic; it held her attention for all of five minutes.

BUT - the one game she would play was SSX. She loved it; we used to sit in bed on saturday mornings playing 'going down the mountain', as it got nicknamed. She had her favourite character (Zoe, in SSX Tricky; she's sassy and a bit punk; perfect) and became incredibly focused about winning tricking medals on each level, to the point of learning controls and mechanisms; she got at least as far as the Alaska level before getting stuck and frustrated.

The frustration set in when the time limits for racing down became too tight - she couldn't get to the next checkpoint in time, let alone fit in enough tricks in the meantime; the game punished her for preferring and developing skills in the freeform trick mode over the focused race mode.

We talked, once, about why this was the only game she liked. I can't remember verbatim what it was she said, but I absolutely remember the gist. It was this:

That she never died. No matter what happened, she *always* got to the bottom of the hill. It didn't matter if she came in last, or didn't win a medal; the fact that she could always 'complete' the level meant that the game didn't make her feel 'bad'. She didn't feel she'd failed.

I think producing games that still give you the feeling of having beaten something *even when you've failed to beat it* might be a key factor in designing games for non-gamers. It could even be the feeling that if you've failed to beat it, it just hasn't worked out right, like patience.

I see it in myself, too; I always play games on the easiest setting, and am a sucker for cheats; I loose interest as soon as the time required to build up skill to play the game is greater than the (usually very tiny) ammount of time I'm prepared to invest in playing. The number of games that are compelling enough to be more fun than work when getting over the difficulty-spikes approaches zero for me; of the 40 or so games stacked up in my living room, I've completed... two? Three? Certainly less than 10%, probably closer to 1% of all of the games I've played in my time.

It's an extension of playing styles, I think. I'd question if the kind of person who tends to develop games is likely to be the kind of person who temperamentally prefers a certain playing style that is at odds with the casual gamer.

Reaching more people through games will be about expanding the types and styles of games, not about agressive marketing or ubiquitous technology. Growth will come from careful thinking about content.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005 - Download TV Shows, Download Movies and Clips - Download TV Shows, Download Movies and Clips: "By using this service, you agree to the following conditions: You may not use this service to obtain or distribute software or any other copyrighted material that you do not have the right to. Any violators must leave this site immediately. This site is meant for educational purposes only. You will find a complete online guide and proprietary file sharing software within the member's area. Plus, get access to leading free P2P software, tutorials, tools and music resources. Purchase of a Subscription is not a license to upload or download copyrighted material. We do not condone copyright infringement and urge you to respect the copyright laws of your Country."

Versus the following Google Ad:

Sponsored Links
Missed an Episode?
Download Doctor Who
episodes to watch at any time!

Hmn. How does that work then, that 'not condoning copyright infringement'? Surely advertising that you *can* download a copyright TV show on their service is condoning infringement?

Friday, September 02, 2005




So, sending out pings to let people know about stuff (or, the email way of keeping in touch with no real effort involved, which I recently seem to remember having seen written up as a fabulously expensive piece of consultant research that we could have told them for free anyway) sometimes pays enormous dividends. On dropping my 'Hey, the husband is on Radio 3' note to a huge tranche of people I should really take more time and effort over, a friend dropped back a 'hey, me too!' note, and pointed me to his most recent musical collaboration.

It's really rather good. It sounds like a cross between the soundtrack to 'Crash' (the JG Ballard one, rather than the one doing the rounds in a cinema near you currently), Aphex Twin, and improvised Jazz.

I reccomend a listen. Oh, and read Mr Nik Newark over on the side bar there; he's teh funneh.

Appointment to listen: BBC Radio 3 - Pre-Hear - 3 September 2005


My husband is a composer. This saturday, one of his pieces is being performed on Radio Three. In the same bill as something by Peter Maxwell Davis.

The show is called PreHear, and is on at 10.40pm on saturday night. Take a transistor radio to the pub and listen to it just before last orders.

He's rather good, and quite listenable. Promise.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

1,2,3,4 -- I Declare IM War

1,2,3,4 -- I Declare IM War

An interesting write up of the power struggle about to kick off in IM space.

I wonder how much the proprietorial attitude taken by the key players is based on the mindset bought about by the stunted US SMS market?

Eye Crush

I'm weirdly in love with Sam Taylor-Wood's photographs at the moment.

I used to have one of the Five Revolutionary Seconds shots up above my desk; Self Portrait with Single Breasted Suit and Hare is one of my favourite photos. AND she did a jolly good desert island disks, too.

That is all.