Monday, October 31, 2005

History by Phone Numbers: The Clapham Sect

There's an ongoing trauma involving connection (or, more specifically, the lack thereinof) to a super-fast 24 meg broadband service in our house at the moment. The upshot of this is no internet - or WoW! - for me at home at the moment.

Shoddy service from Be has led to an interesting little local history lesson, however.

Connection speed on ADSL is partly dependant on your distance from your local exchange - the longer the copper wire from the exchange, the more noise, and the worse your connection. Our housemate looked at a diagram of the dropoff rate and emailed me to let me know we're a mere 802 metres from our local exchange - which is Nine Elms.

I'd been wondering where our exchange was - partly, to be honest, because I'm a bit geeky about London Exchange mnemonics. I know there's a Battersea exchange too, so wondered if the housemate had the right one.

So - first stop is the list of London Director Exchange Names to check out if Nine Elms exchange matches our phonenumber. Lo and behold, Nine Elms, like my old Putney number, is one of the strangely named ones: MACaulay - my phone number starts 020 7622 - the 622 corresponding to M-A-C on an old dial phone. So I'm definately on Nine Elms... but why the funny name?

My first stop for local info is Google - a search on my postcode for Macaulay might give something away. There's a school and a road named Macaulay - so there is some local connection to the name. And it's related to Clapham Common northside, rather than the more Vauxhally area of Nine Elms itself. So, a quick google on Macaulay and Clapham brings up the local school's site - no information about where they got their name from on there. But a bit further down is this article - it turns out that Zachary Macaulay was a member of the Clapham Sect - a group of social reformers responsible for the abolition of slavery.

He was the father of Thomas Babington Macaulay - another abolitionist, and author of the Indian Penal Code. He also wrote history books - including Lays of Ancient Rome.

It seems that whoever decided on the strange Director Exchanges in the London Phone system had a small weakness for classsical history.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

BBC Broadcast Rebrands, Kim Laughs and Points.

Sometimes, I despair of the industry I work in. I particularly despair of the marketing and branding aspects of it, which strike me as being a strange mass delusion; some kind of group hysteria of idiocy.

So, it is with a disbelieving shake of the head that I reproduce a marketing email I recieved this morning.

We are pleased to announce our new name - Red Bee Media
As of 31 October, we will no longer be called BBC Broadcast.

We wanted a name that reflected where we have come from. When we were Broadcasting and Presentation we were known as B&P. As BBC Broadcast we have been known as BBCB. So an evolutionary step was to play with the sound ?B?.

The spelling as ?Bee? came from an internal brainstorm when we were looking at nature?s expert navigators, because as a company facing the digital future we need to help the consumer become equally adept as navigators. We have always used Red as our colour property and this gave added strength to the name.

We look forward to working with you as Red Bee Media

Just to reinforce the general mindless idiocy of this marketingese, it's worth noting that their brand spanking new website is currently showing a holding page:

This domain has been registered on behalf of a client by

It's worth noting that there have been a couple of outbreaks of marketing idiocy in the last day or two - Apple's branding of the not-quite-cold Rosa Parks with their 'Think Different' logo was particularly sickmaking, too.

Sometimes, I wonder why I took a job based on marketing our deparment's output; I'm fated to be bad at it by the standards of the industry.

Monday, October 24, 2005

I Need a Flasher

... actually, I need to track down a good actionscript type person, on behalf of a friend.

Do any of my illustrious readers know of someone who is good, not an idiot, not completely flaky, and who might be available?

Add a comment. Drop me a line.

Friday, October 21, 2005

1337 [European version]

And this one is for Dr McDonald, coder of the aincient world.

Alice in Wonderland Park - a fun family day in Christchurch, Dorset

Alice in Wonderland Park - a fun family day in Christchurch, Dorset

For 'Tips.


Download Quicktime 7 Without Downloading iTunes 6

Just a little public service announcement.

You don't have to download the latest version of iTunes in order to get at the juicy QuickTime7 goodness, by the way.

There's a cunning little link to a standalone installer, which at first glance looks like part of the feature set of QuickTime 7 Pro. But isn't.

So, here, in all it's glory, is the QuickTime 7 Standalone Installer, without iTunes.

AND - you don't have to type your email address in the box for the download to work, either.

That is all. Go back about your business. Tags:

Why be Original?

The Boyfriend has just written a very long post about copyright. Now, I'm kind of broadly in favour of some kind of copyright protection, because the spirit of copyright is to protect the little guy - to give the creator of a work the legal footing to stop someone ripping-off their hard work, and profiting from that.

It's particularly useful in cases where, say, a newspaper reprints content from a website with no payment or attribution. This kind of thing happens, and copyright gives the original author recourse under law to get recompense from the naughty thieving newspaper.

I'm less mad on the excesses of copyright (the Sonny Bono extensions, the insane over-controlling despotism of the RIAA etc) which I feel - although I couldn't argue cogently, that's what The Boyfriend is for - contain some erosion of the rights of the little guy. They seem to be there to protect huge corporate interests, who are already making more than enough money, thankyouverymuch.

There is a flip side to the anticopyright argument though: to the Creative Commons / CopyLeft approach, and its espousal of remix culture. well, yes, let's free up all that stuff for us to play with.

As remix, remake, remodel becomes shorthand for creativity, what happens to originality? To the completely new, to the fresh, to the 'my god that's so different and strange that I'm not sure if I like it' feeling you get from something completely without precedent? By opening up all of the output of human ingenuity to free reuse, do we risk overloading our young creative minds with choice, and freezing our culture in a permanent postmodern phase of bricolage?

My creative outlet has always been the visual arts, and I'll hold up my hands and say that yes, it's easier to remix than work from fresh. It's much easier to make a satisfying and rich collage than a completely original work. Borrowing someone else's beautifully nuanced image will make your work better... but does it thus loose some you-ness?

Good artists borrow, great artists steal. Does a genius remix? Is a cut and paste job enough to make us change our way of thinking about the world? Is the nostalgic tickle of a sweet juxtaposition enough, or are we making ourselves poorer in the face of cultural overload?

I don't have answers to this. But I'd be interested to know what other people think. Are we destoying our culture by plundering it? Are we tearing down the cathedrals to build new walls? And are utility and neccessity driving us to do it, or merely ennui? Tags:

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Outrageous Advertising Sexism

WPP Group worldwide creative director Neil French is reportedly leaving the holding company after making sexist comments.

French gave a speech in Toronto this month in which he was asked why women were under-represented among the top ranks of creative directors.

He replied: "Because they're crap"


I think I'd quite like to remove this guys balls with a rusty spoon.

Just, you know, to make a point.

How not to answer queries from sophisticated users

Sometimes, sending stuff through your marketing and publicity department is a very, very bad idea.

Particularly when the thing in question is a set of questions for your developers about the mechanics and difficulties of making a huge MMORPG.

And very particularly when the questions are posed by slashdot.

I find it utterly, utterly extraordinary that companies still think that sanitising responses into blandness is any kind of way to treat their customers. (Who, of course, pay the wages of everyone working in the company. Including the marketing muppets.)

But I guess that I'm unusual, in that I'm one of the crazy young internet things who are so awkward and don't behave the way marketeers think I ought. Or something.

Helpful Microsoft AAC support

So - my work PC has upgraded to windows media player 10. I've got some AAC files kicking around my hard drive. I can't play them. So I pootle off to see where codecs for AAC / MP4 can be found.

And I follow the links from this Microsoft Knowledge Base page.



Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Warcaft lingo explained through giffery

From a post on (GIF Image, 412x226 pixels) - a little primer in World-of-warcraft slang.

I'm completely obsessed with the game at the moment; it's eating all my spare time, and I'm experiencing an odd split in my realities between regular life and life-as-a-dim-giant-cow-lady.

Yes yes, insert your own joke there.

The bleed between the people I know in-game and in RL is odd too - I'm playing with the marvellous Alice; and of course I'm usually sitting next to the boyfriend. The bickering gets quite amusing, but what my online chums never see is the shouting that goes on between the two of us if I fail to tank properly, fall off something, pull aggro, or any one of a number of failings I'm prone to, what with being a bit useless at playing games.

The surprising thing is that I'm finding being a big, stupid bumbling idiot who just hits things very, very liberating.

Anyway - I think it's only a matter of time before Alice and I end up in the same meeting, and one or the other of us uses our in-game names, or some other slang. It'll be entertaining.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Nielsen on Information Pollution

Jakob Nielsen on information pollution.

Brevity is the soul of wi.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Epic 2015

A fantstic (if slow loading) little flash video about the history of the internet, as seen from 2015.

There's also one from 2014 with a happy ending, apparently.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Blog Links

Ooh! I have been thanked for being unquantifiable yet heartfelt.

What a good description of me as a whole.

Blogging - it's all about the buffs, you know.

Although I ought to warn Chris that I will, at some point, flex my Zoology degree muscles and take his post about evolution appart. But politely, at least... *winks*

In other news - I've been invited to a party by some marvellous trannies, on the basis of a hyperlink.

I consider it karma payback for the time I helped a drag queen sort her wig out in the loos at Revenge. Well, you should never let a queen go out in public if the back of their wig is a mess. It's only polite to help. Oh, that and being a good person to shop for girl pants with. And the time I put pins in the fairy called Pip and made zir weekend.

I wonder if it's time to run my life as something other than an elaborate personal in-joke? It's shallow, I know. But I do enjoy the feeling of being able to chuckle at the ridiculousness of it all on a regular basis.