June 30, 2002
Things to remember about altitude No 1
Three beers and a glass of wine suddenly becomes a *lot* to drink. No matter how much you're in practice at ground level.
Lawyers v Hackers?
Jamie's just made an interesting point - is code evolving faster than the law? Are cases the MPAA is trying to bring going to be irrelevant and unenforcable by the time they're on the statute books?
It reminds me of a virtual version of the toner wars in Neal Stephenson's "Diamond Age"
June 29, 2002
Peer to Peer Publishing
Jamie's really interesting - I want to talk to him more. He's the sort of person who is nearly always spoiling for a fight, but reminds you of your responsibilities. 'Oh shit, yes, I have a conscience'.
He's taken issue with me on a few points, and once mistook me for a union-basher, but I've always managed to explain why I've said what I've said. Or point out that he'd completely misunderstood me on the union thing. But it did make me think about whether that's always the case... he should definitely keep badgering away!!!!
Oh, one other thing. Despite deliberate attempts at appearing to the contrary, the couple who make Movable Type are doing it as a full-time job and not getting paid. I'm now impelled to make a donation because it's a great, great product.
I wonder whether we need to start a campaign for 'subsistence payment for blogging tool authors'? Tom officially declares the start of the SAVE BEN AND MENA CAMPAIGN.
Don't forget that meetup day is on the 18th.
I must admit that I was slightly shocked at some of the choices of venues for the London meetup. A *Starbucks* for christs sake?
Anyway, hie yourselves over to blog.meetup.org to get involved in your local one.
Rainy, and looking down on Banff from the top of (possibly) Tunnel Mountain.
I was very glad we weren't climbing this too!
This is probably one of the greatest cultural shocks to me. In europe we're pretty much so mongrelised that we don't have an indigenous population. (Gypsies possibly?)
In Canada, the Aboriginals aren't interested in television made by people in the south - they want to talk about their own issues, and we had a fabulous and really inspiring talk from Ahasiw Maskegon-Iskwew - a Cree/French Canadian who's been a key player in Aboriginal People's Television Network. He works with native producers and is trying to find ways to bring their programmes into the interactive world. This is despite huge pressures from the likes of CBC and the old-skool linear tv folk at APTN.
He's using a lot of cool-looking tools from Zope to help him do this.
It was also interesting to hear that it's not possible to study native arts at university here - you study European classical art, and the only place native arts are discussed are in anthropology.
Similarly, there's no discussion of Aboriginal creation stories, and how they should be preserved. He's looking at ways to do that.
A very inspiring figure.
Incidentally, he's also made me reappraise The Mullet. His is essentially an unplaited version of what the other Aboriginals are wearing - as seen in every western ever.
Realised I was jumping to very false conclusions.
This is just plain fabulous. Mindblowingly amazing.
A graphical user interface to a chat client/messageboard that shows the evolution and linkages of the community in real time.
Meg Houlihan and I were considering its appropriateness for blogging communities - it seems a really good complementary tool to the new version of Movable Type, which will provide a popup of "what people are saying about my posts". Coolness incorporated!
We went for a walk up this (well I believe it was - it might have been a pathetic little hillock that's near it) yesterday as a way of digesting some of the information we'd had at the keynote speeches, and to chat to other members of the group without having to hang around awkwardly in a 'generic room'. About an hour and a half all in all.
Tunnel Mountain doesn't actually *have* a tunnel. It was planned, but then they decided to divert the railroad round it instead. There was some implication this was a turn-of-the-century scam. :-) Anyway, the name stuck. The local name for it is 'Sleeping Buffalo', because that's what they think it looks like.
Banff excitement, part one of a thousand
Bloody hell this place is beautiful.
I'm sitting here typing away in what would normally be a terminal room. But instead I'm looking through enormous pine-edged windows, over the walls mace of what I presume is local granite, to see groundhogs and deer wandering the grounds.
Oh, and a pair of magpies.
Behind them is beautiful pine forest, leading up to the mountains beyond. It's been a cold and bitter winter here that lasted a long time, and so they've still got a tiny bit of snow on top of them. Gosh I wish I had a digital camera - it would make things so much easier...
June 24, 2002
I'm wearing out my...joie de vivre
There's been a silence on here recently.
This is caused by a) getting some sleep, b) stocking up on couply-ness before I go away.
Once I get to Banff, I'm sure the torrents of shite will resume.
June 21, 2002
Global Domination - Help Is At Hand
Now I know where I'm going to get my robotic tigers.
June 20, 2002
Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's off to Banff we go...
10 days of being surrounded by people just like me, and trying to work out whether I'm good enough to be 'a person just like me'.
1) No project to take along at the moment
2) 12-minute presentation about 'new media projects - funding and production' - what am I going to say given my slightly priveleged position in the current media market. (Though the tendency to point out that I was earning half what they were a year ago is very keen)
3) The half-hour - yes, half-hour - presentation on interactive fiction.
It's odd though - it's making me reevaluate and realise that I have actually done some cool stuff in my time. Something I tend to forget.
Waiting for terms of contract - I hope to blog the whole thing if wireless is available...
June 19, 2002
License to hate your parents
The poor sod. Remember to think carefully when naming your children, sports fans!
(Note: this will only be funny if you are from the UK. And possibly only if you went to primary school in the 70s)
The blog equivalent of several days of staring numbly into space, knowing that nothing's going on in your head, yet at the same time *everything's* going on inside your head - but just out of reach.
I'm getting sleep, drinking less, more productive at work, less stressed, but still feel I need to sstare into space and dribble for about five weeks.
Prod me with a pointy stick if you need me...
June 17, 2002
I now own a new house. How did that happen? And what am I going to do with all the spare time now I don't have to be stressed about trying to buy a house?
June 16, 2002
Apologies - A serious (RIPA) moment
Post Office To Steam Open Your History File [from stand.org.uk]
One of the more extreme powers the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) handed out two years ago let government agencies obtain "traffic data" without a judicial warrant.
Traffic data is best described as the writing on the envelope of a message, instead of its contents. It can be the list of phone numbers you have called in the last six months. Or a full list of Websites you have visited. Or the times you log on, and from where. Or who you e-mail, or what programs you've downloaded, or what newsgroups you read. Or the position of your cellphone last Tuesday at five.
Because the risk of abuse of this power (there's no judicial oversight - all that's needed is the permission of a suitably high-powered boss), those who could wield it were strictly limited. Only the police, Customs and Excise and the secret services were allowed access to traffic data in the original act.
Not any more.
On Friday, the Home Office petitioned parliament to add a vast array of organisations to that list. If their passes, everyone from the DTI, any local authority, the Food Standards Agency, the Home Office themselves (of course), and staggeringly enough, Consignia. The final entry in the list says that "A Universal Service Provider within the meaning of the Postal Services Act 2000" has the same power as the secret services to read your traffic data. There's only one USP in Britain right now, and that's the provider previously known as the Royal Mail.
If the idea that the fricking Post Office has access to your web logs (access which would cost a competitive company millions, and would probably get them investigated by the Data Protection people), let alone every minor apparatchik on the block, you might want to kick up a fuss about this. It's due to appear before MPs on June 18th, and the Lords a little after.
How do I find out more?
Read the Order before Parliament. It's very short (although the list of allowed organisations is very long - two minutes should do it).
Flick through our quick notes on the original RIPA law. (The notes are based on an earlier draft, so the section numbers are a bit off. But you get the idea.)
What can I do?
Fax your MP now. The Order is to be debated next Tuesday, and these things are usually rubber-stamped. Tell your MP which groups you don't want to be spied on by (list them all), and tell him why. Explain what traffic data means (your MP might not now how wide-ranging it is). Explain it in terms he or she can understand - if they're a Conservative, explain how it's government prying into people's lives. If they're Labour, talk about civil rights. If they're Liberal, say what you like - the LibDems are usually down with this sort of nonsense. Ask for a reply.
It'll take twenty minutes of your time. It'll make a difference. Members of Parliament hate having this sort of wide-ranging power sneaked past them as much as you do. If you're feeling a bit lazy today, you could forward this message to one of your more overactive friends. And then write your letter tomorrow.
If you're a journalist, or want to write a detailed piece for others, you can contact Ian Brown (+44 7970 164526) at The Foundation for Information Policy Research (FIPR). As ever, they were the ones to spot this piece of nastiness first. And if you're feeling flush, for £25 you can join the Friends of FIPR which will get you advance alerts and a warm feeling about these issues.
June 12, 2002
Forget e-bay - Amazon is the new home of sarcasm
Read the reviews of the new Hasselhof album. After the first five or so it starts getting a bit silly...
June 11, 2002
Oasis members beware
The Monobrow matching game was just so good I had to blog it immediately.
South Park Character Maker
Possibly old hat, but just in case - create your own South Park character shockwave jobbie.
(Thanks to Tom Plasticbag for this.)
Which I don't necessarily agree with all of, but then perhaps it's the right moment to spend some time reading *more* things I don't agree with.
Denise Wilton from b3ta (pronounced "beeta", not "bayta" or "bee-three-tee-ay") was a real anomaly - her lurker-to-poster ratio is less than 1%, and her moderation systems seem to really reinforce good stuff.
I still think that we should be hunting for a method of measuring authenticity. Google is as near as we've got at the moment, but TomC rightly pointed out that you could link to a reactionary bigot saying "what a reactionary bigot" and they'd go up in the search engines. There needs to be a wrapper that carries some information about the context of those links with it..."it's heavily linked - and here's *why*".
Also, there was a lot of talking about whether blogging was the new journalism. As I'm sure you lot have guessed, I simply can't be arsed to write x-thousand words per week on demand about something new. I want others to do that for me. I'll pay for a physical thing, or "pay" by linking from my own blog if it's published online. But I expect a blog to be fundamentally personal, transient and faintly sloppy. A blog that's just how-many-links-can-I-cram-into-one-post-to-prove-how-erudite-I-am doesn't interest me at all. I have search engines for that!
Today, I am one year older.
Some lovely DVDs, CDs, Kitchen Gadgets and a day to sit at home and read. What more could I ask for?
(Oh, yes, having my other half at home here too. Curse this grown-up responsibility malarkey)
33, if you must know.
Also, if you've got this far, you'll have realised I also managed to get the templates working properly - another nice birthday suprise.
June 09, 2002
Good lord. That was a busy day. And suprisingly alcoholic too...
Online Comedy Panel
This is fabulous. They're the most chain-smoking, self-deprecating bunch of scowling gits you could imagine. And they're giving damn good entertainment.
Fundamentally they all agree that doing cutting-edge satire will alienate any potential advertisers.
And Charlie Brooker has claimed the reason he missed out on any potential revune from selling his book was because he was just too damn inept to realise that Amazon Partners exist. He's far more charming in real life than you'd imagine from the creator of Nathan Barley.
Rockall Times, TVGoHome and TheFridayThing are all on the panel, btw. And there's a guy from The Register hosting. Go figure.
The missus has just sagely pointed out that the person who's most vehemently opposed to ads on their site is the only one who's already made money. She is clever.
They all believe though, that there is a market for a really kick-arse online comedy site. Which is good.
CB still sticks to his claim that the ultimate comedy is 'funny cum-shots'. :-)))))))
Festival Of Inappropriate Technology
Thanks to NTK and Metamute for organising this fabulous, if - it must be sadly said - slightly aromatic event.
So here we are in a lovely noisy conference hall. I've already real-life triggered an entry on someone else's blog. Hurrah.
Ben Moor started the day with a wonderful set of archive clips of wierdness. William Shatner's interpretation of 'Rocket Man' was fab, as was the great film about the wonders of Calcium. Was also good to see the Chris Morris meets John Stapleton footage again after all this time.
Within the bounds of fair use, that is.
Colskee and cooking don't get on apparently...
I had to smile.
Best Link Of The Week
Touching Italians is fine, but you must never, ever tell them how to use a product. You merely suggest what they might consider doing with it, according to Carmella Esposito, a former United Nations translator who now works as a freelance technical support consultant.
Can't help noticing that a lot of blogs have gone a bit quiet recently. Embarrassment and guilt finally pushed me over the edge to the point where I've overcome my fear of tempting fate.
What's everyone else's excuse? You can't still be at a Jubilee street party!
(Mind you, good to see that Meg not.so.soft is back from her hols.)
I guess I should mention that we've sold the house. Argh.
We also girded our loins for the depressing tour of estate agents in our chosen location. Estate Agent: [n] One who fails to return calls, looks at you incredulously when you say you want to buy a house, sends you inappropriate details, and phones everyone else to tell them about the house you wanted.
And they were lovely. I guess it's the power of actually having the money to spend now.
We saw a place we fell in love with - 2 RJ45 points in every room, patching in the cellar, enormous garden, fab kitchen - and were then told by the bank that we couldn't afford it.
But they have agreed to lend us over the standard amount, and now we have a decent footing for making real offers on real houses. Up to a slightly-smaller-than-we-hoped number. But at least we know.
The effect of this: I'm knackered because I don't have to be sensible, grown up and mature any more. Just really shattered. So I'm even more confused about why I woke up at 5am...
Memo To Self
A general to-do list, created for the purpose of naming and shaming...me.
- Sort out archive templates in movable type.
- Confirm finances for existing projects at work so whole thing doesn't crumble into dust around me.
- Set up plans and milestones for new projects so they're delegatable. And then delegate them.
- Track down a really good book on making non-fussy bread. Bloomers, rolls, that sort of thing. I'm sick of recipes for 'carrot and chilli focaccia'.
- Play the bloody piano/program the synths a bit more.
- Stop getting overexcited about material acquisitions.
- Stop dealing with stress by taking the piss.
- Do the hard and scary bit of a job first while you've got the commitment, rather than putting it off till the end when you're sick of the project.
- The phone is a higher-bandwidth medium than email. Use it and recover your life.
- Work out how much of my time each week is *actually* free and under my control, and only piss around during that bit.
- Run headfirst at scary things.
- Listen to my body. It can tell me useful things like 'go to sleep' or 'eat now'.
- Caffeine and Alcohol are not perfect partners you can rely on - they're two sides in a metabolic war.
Ah well, the time finally came. Yesterday I was so knackered I - shock horror - actually went to bed early. This was supposed to mean I got a decent night's sleep and was fresh as a daisy for Xcom 2002 today.
Of course, what actually happened is that I then woke up at quarter past five with an incredibly buzzy brain and a couple of hours to fill without waking my partner.
So, as a result, would you please welcome the full and extended "recommended" lists down the right hand side. When I get really bored I may even put amazon links into them so you can find out if other people thought they were any cop too.
June 05, 2002
June 04, 2002
More On Blog Links
As I had to rush to get into the once-boiling bath before it finally changed from tepid to ice-cold I didn't get to put up the corrollary to what I was saying below about the blog list on the right.
I'm trying to keep this list short-ish because I've seen a lot of sites with hundreds and hundreds of links on them - almost competitive linking. A bit like saying 'see what a good net community person I am - all these sites are fab and I read them every day'. When we know you don't.
I've considered doing a 'daily/weekly/occasional' list like I've seen others do, but I doubt I'd be able to resist the temptation to start showing off and linking stuff I feel I ought to read, rather than actually do. Which you'll then have to read for me because I couldn't be arsed to do my homework...
This is all for *your* protection you understand!
(If you want a big list and think I'm mad, let me know in the comments and I'll diligently copy out the contents of my bookmarks)
iPods, iTunes and Music Consumption
I've been thinking more and more about this. The new Powerbook has turned up, and spent a couple of evenings importing my favourite albums and cd singles. Or MP3s of things I own on vinyl but can't be bothered to cable the computer up to import.
And it's taken on a really useful role in our house - playing a constantly changing bed of music throughout the evening.
But there's a fundamental design flaw in iTunes, based on the a corresponding flaw in Apple's philosophy of music consumption.
The computer is not *mine*. It's, like I've said before, a shared utility in our house. It can cater for my exclusive tastes, but also has to know to turn them off at any given time if it's not appropriate. In our house, this mythical feature has come to be known as 'The Dubstar Filter'. And I can't be bothered to maintain a playlist of all the stuff that my wife likes too.
Apple designers: In the next release of this software, please provide two things.
1) A folder-style view of the music library, so I can easily group tracks by artist or album
2) A way of turning off an entire section of the hierarchy instantly. At artist, genre or album level - I can't be bothered to individually turn off about 40 songs from my playlist every time I'm using my Mac in public.
This way, family conflicts will be easily resolved - and it troubles me that this wasn't considered when Apple were designing the thing in the first place. They need to think about this aspect of the Mac-as-hub-of-the-home model a bit more.
I'm kind of protective of this list. There are things that are I read regularly which aren't on there, because I want to be sure that they're going to be worth you trusting my endorsment. (Even though, to be honest, it's a list of the only people that actually read this bloody thing... :-)
Anyway, after a bit of consideration, welcome Crazy Beautiful to the permanent list. She's got some kind of odd views at times but really inspiring at others - so just like most of the blogging community then. A welcome dose of totally alternative perspective.
Hell On Earth
Completely agree with The Obvious about the strange sense of horror and huge empathy when considering the Daniel Pearl execution video that's been put online. I was also aware of a strange feeling that there was a test there - was I strong enough of character to withstand it?
In the end I decided that I wasn't going to hunt it out. A lot of this was due to reading Crazy Beautiful's description of her reaction to seeing it. I've been haunted by her description since I first read it four or five days ago.
(The CB link doesn't quite work, so you need to scroll down to the "warning extreme content' bit. Don't worry, there isn't a link there.)
June 02, 2002
I guess it's ironic that I look at the huge wisdom on The Obvious today, and feel slightly jealous and quite depressed at how far I've got to go, and how little I've accomplished with my tawdry little life.
Oh, and how long ago it was I climbed a Munro.
Instead of getting annoyed at the grass you are slipping on look closely at the different shades of green, the patterns of the intertwining grasses, the brightness and beauty of the wild flowers dotted in amongst the grass. All of this detail and interest focuses you on the moment and will mean that the next time you look up you will be amazed at how far you have traveled.
If you go into every event looking forward to when it is over or miss the pleasures of every moment because you are anticipating the pleasures of the next one then you will go through life incredibly frustrated.
So why is it that a laptop with 1GB of memory installed also turns up with virtual memory turned on?????