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July 31, 2003

Idyllic

A fab breakfast
Some braindumping via the blog
A beautiful lunch at our local top-notch restaurant
Buying lovely things at the wine society
Choosing plants and manhandling manure at Van Hage Garden Centre
Installing a York Rose Arch
Pruning galore
Lovely nostalgic telly
A glass of nostalgic beer.

I love being on holiday.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:26 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I don't understand

this, but something tells me I need to keep track on it until I do.

For ages I've been prattling on about telephony being just an application that lives on a mobile data-linked device, and that everyone's too hung up on the concept of 'a phone'.

I can see a time when your phone has 'virtual memory' on a server somewhere, and that when you need to get an app, it will be streamed over the wireless network for you to use it. After all, if you're lugging around all that battery weight, you want your mobile device to carry as much *data* as possible - that's *you* after all. If you don't use it as a phone, why have that memory (which is unlikely to be rom as it would need to be upgradeable) wasted on a phone application?

In fact, it's possible that mobile phone apps would multicast from a carousel - rather like ceefax or digital TV. There could be a channel dedicated to continuous delivery of these apps, and you hook into it when you need it.

Must get round to developing these ideas at some stage. Even if it means realising they're a bunch of arse and should be scrapped.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:11 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Tough nut to crack

It's interesting comparing Martin Belam's thoughts on the revised BBCi (UK-focussed) Search and what happens when you do a search, say, on 'blog'.

Blogger obviously ranks highly, but is William Gibson's blog really more important than the Guardian's onlineblog? A blog in Polish ranks above not.so.soft?

They've done a lot of good work, and I've certainly seen traffic to my site from theirs increase recently, but I'm not sure it quite lives up to the hype.

There's also an interesting editorial challenge - in the elastic internationality of blogs, where do you draw the line? The current A-list bloggers would almost certainly want it to be as wide as possible, picking up the Corys and Docs.

But do ordinary people?

I think most UK licence fee payers would get far more out of Richard Herring's blog than they would out of Matt Webb's.

BBCi Search, because of the unique demands of its audience, will probably end up being a leading light in how the current A-list slowly change from being the BBC1, to the BBC2, to the BBC4.

(In fact, is that how they should start thinking about search now? Will search via a brand give the context to provide greater relevance to that audience?)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:55 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 30, 2003

iTrip beware

I have to admit that the Griffin Technology iTrip isn't working as well as I had hoped.

The car radio can only occasionally latch on to the signal. The transmitter has to be in the right place - i.e. the back seat. It has to be transmitting strongly before you turn the radio on or FM capture takes the radio to the nearest station.

It works fine in an ambient environment - we can get a radio in the same room to tune into it quite happily.

However, within the Faraday cage of a Peugeot 307 car body, it doesn't perform.

After having paid $35 for the product, $30 shipping, and 18 duty, I'm more than a little disappointed.

More info if it suddenly starts working.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 01:04 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 25, 2003

I repeat, this is not a gif.

This jpeg will hurt your eyes.

Thanks to Dub.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 03:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 24, 2003

Matrix Hilariously Meets Physical Theatre

After my recent post enthusing about Taylor's Dummies, I was highly amused to see a different take on their multi-viewpoint physical theatre. The Matrix meets Table-tennis

Posted by Tom Dolan at 05:46 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

If Richard Can, Why Can't I?

Richard Herring has managed to relax his shoulders.

I'm jealous. I can't. Ever.

(Well, I can by accident for a few minutes, but not as a matter of course.)

Everything somehow ends up making me tense my shoulders. Talking. Walking. Typing. Thinking. Sitting. Sleeping. Perhaps it's indicative of my internal struggle - to overcome my natural lethargy and scatterbrainedness I have to turn every action into a melodramatic me-vs-everything struggle. Or perhaps I'm just stupid.

If anyone has any tips...?

Posted by Tom Dolan at 03:17 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

And to lighten the tone...

But quickly, because I'm about to run out of lunch hour, this Danny O'Brien post made me laugh a lot.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Curses. A non-trivial post.

it is clear enough from looking at the search logs at the BBC that a large proportion of internet users do not understand the way that search engines interact with either the content they have indexed, the content that is available, or the content that they would rather have you see

Martin Belam's made another erudite posting on the use of search engines by Real People. It's particularly interesting because of the issue made by commercial sponsors about web use.

Two things spring to mind.

1) How much *should* Real People (tm) have to know about search engines and their relationships with the content they index?

I like to think of the model of TV listings magazines here. They contain advertising. Sometimes, at the more luridly-coloured end of the market, I suspect there is a slightly shady relationship between the broadcasters and the content that happens to get highly recommended.

Fundamentally their business model is based on (in order of importance)
a) people buying a magazine to get content
b) advertising around the content
c) a few sponsored/paid-for bits of editorial

If their business focussed on these revenues in the opposite order, nobody would buy the magainzes - they'd smell a rat in no time.

Yet search engines have got themselves in a bit of a fix. They can't do (a), (b) isn't bringing in the cash they'd hoped, and in some cases they have deliberately said they won't do it. So they're stuck with (c) as their best hope.

Yet this false ranking of listings is lying to the audience. It's devaluing the service day by day. And the removal of labelling of sponsored links will cause a huge plummeting of trust.

Search engines and advertisers have become complicit in the same self-delusion. That the advertisers deserve to have their brand links at the top of the listings, and can pay for it, and that the audience won't mind.

Advertisers should understand that people don't want to go to their sites. They know this on television - otherwise there would be no programmes between the adverts. The whole game is the use of content as glue to effectively trick people into going to the advertisers.

There are times when the system does go awry. I recently posted an entry about how to fix crackly speakers on a Samson Sever 260 studio amp. About which I received huge ribbing at a dinner party the other night. You know who you are. Anyway, because of my stature (as if) in the blog world, this entry is now ranked in Google above Samson's own site. Which I am not sure is strictly fair, and I can't help feeling glad that the post was very favourable about them. I've even been tempted to rewrite the post so the opening paragraph appearing in google gave a more balanced view of the whole post - it's about a pretty good product.

But then I guess google ultimately ranks the popularity of producers of content. And advertisers have to find a way of dealing with that. And with them.

So, given that it can go wrong both ways, if there was one thing, readily understood by someone with a reading age of 7, to be known about the search engine relationship, what should it be?

And would it be as scary as knowing that commercial tv is there for the benefit of the advertisers, rather than for the audience?

2) ermmmmmm
Damn. I should have written 2 down before I started 1) because I've incorporated it all into that.
In fact this whole thing is a bit long and rambling. Ah well, I'll wait for a bit and then rewrite it to say what I meant. Possibly.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:07 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 22, 2003

Servants of the people - my arse.

I am getting just so so SO cross with the government that I helped elect now.

Today's twopenn'orth on the upsexing row is purely speculative, but we offer it anyway. How credible do you think it is that Dr Kelly - a man of such honour and honesty that he dobbed himself in as an Andrew Gilligan source - would then sit back and allow Alastair Campbell to be falsely accused without making any attempt to correct the mistake?

From Guardian Diary

Posted by Tom Dolan at 06:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 19, 2003

Glee!

I know it shouldn't matter, but after many years, I am finally back ahead of Tom Dolan the olympic swimmer

Posted by Tom Dolan at 07:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 17, 2003

What I did on my vacation.

http://www.mtv.co.uk/mtvmash
http://www.mtve.com/mtvmash
http://www.mtv.fr/mtvmash
http://www.mtv.de/mtvmash
http://www.mtv.it/mtvmash
http://www.mtv.pl/mtvmash
http://www.mtv.es/mtvmash
http://www.mtv.nl/mtvmash

A little buggy perhaps, but launched on the day we said!

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 16, 2003

PS. Ta.

To all the people posting lovely messages, both here and via email, about my forthcoming parenthood. Vix and I have had taken great joy in (and perhaps a bit of courage from) reading them.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:26 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Busy.

I'd forgotten what it was like to be busy.

There was a sort of busy that I used to inhabit - like a high-pressure chess game - where you couldn't let your concentration lapse lest the political world catch up with you, or your strategy be outdated, or your ideas not be inspiring enough to keep your team coming in to work each day.

This is very different. It's easier, for a start, and it involves actually making stuff. Getting things out of the door. The meat and potatoes of production.

Ultimately I'm more valuable doing the former, am better at it, and (mostly) enjoy it more. But, without my unwinnable wars and impossible dreams, it's rather lovely to have an activity holiday.

Sorry, this is a rather roundabout way of saying "I'll put my photos of the Voxpolitics event up soon".

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 14, 2003

E-Democracy Part Two

It's very interesting (and affirming if you're me) that the speakers here are talking about the changes to issue-based rather than dogma-based or broadcast-based audiences. A diversity of issues will grow your audience.

However, will this lead to an increasingly spinnable and news story style content swamping the (cough) blogosphere?

The most notable soundbite: Weblogs are going to be politicising rather than democratising.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 08:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

E-Democracy

Along with The Obvious?, Tom Coates, Neil McIntosh, Tim Jokl and many many more, I'm currently sitting in the houses of parliament listening to the people talking about how blogging and new tech may change democracy, organised by Voxpolitics.

And it's on the first WiFi network ever allowed in the houses of parliament.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 07:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

SimonTh Returns.

A Mutual Misunderstanding is once more alive and well. Hurrah.

But I do wonder what the odds are of the Go Go Underground album still being released in summer 2003...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 04:11 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Big News

(clears throat)

In late January, I'm going to be a dad.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:03 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

July 09, 2003

Men-ist Theatre

I cannot recommend Taylor's Dummies, a play by physical theatre company Gecko, highly enough.

I saw an early version of this a little over a year ago and was pretty blown away then, but they have listened to some of what the critics have said and changed it into something utterly amazing.

I know what you're thinking... "physical theatre, yeah, that's just all that de la guarda poncing rubbish".

This play, despite having virtually no words, and absolutely none spoken by the central character, is one of the most moving things I have seen in ages.

It's also very strange to see a play where the men are explaining it to the women afterwards in the bar.

This work manages to capture, in a series of vignettes, all the frustrations, pressures, desires, egos and baggage in being a man. It also deals exquisitely with men and their relation with 'the abstract concept of women'. (Trust me, it makes sense - and you realise the truth behind it - when you see it.)

It also deals exquisitely with time. But I can't tell you any more or it'll spoil it.

So forget the 'all men are savages really' bollocks of Fight Club. Go see some real insight into how we work.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 01:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 07, 2003

Quiet

Most annoying. I've got some big news coming up, and the network at home has gone really odd. No connection at all and none of the usual resets work.

NTL, Belkin or NetGear - I'll be having words with you when I work out which one of you it is!

(The annoying thing about NTL's broadband is that it's hardware address specific. My router and connection were all set up on a mac that went back to the BBC months ago. And to describe the mac registration process as 'fragile' would be something of an understatement. I'm not looking forward to having to do that again.)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 02, 2003

More Easyspaceage.

I've just acquired Uneasyspace.com.

And I want to be responsible about what I do with it. I don't want to turn it into a slag-fest. But I do want it to answer some of the questions their support site doesn't. Like:

An interesting editorial challenge.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Yet another unsatisfied Easyspacer

Yeah, but is it art has been going through by now pretty standard Easyspace woes. The fact they don't have a customer service number seems top of everyone's list of gripes - and that list, and how big the 'everyone' is, seems to be growing.

And pair.com - if you're reading this - you are *so* much better.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 01, 2003

Jealous? Me?

Tom Coates has now got an exciting and innovative job at the BBC.

This hopefully means that spaces are starting to appear again for the likes of me.

But I'm not getting my hopes up, you hear me, I'm not. :-)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack