August 29, 2003
More money than sense?
So, be brave. Go to the Levi's Europe site, hover your mouse over 'collections' (no, you can't click on it), and then choose 'browse collections'
Now try the 'teenage kicks' site, and discover one of the worst bits of non-interactive activity ever. Just pure design and flash for the sake of it. People somehow get paid money for shit like this.
On the other hand, the 'red tab' section is really cunning. You actively want to keep using it to see more of their browser.
I couldn't have put it better myself...
From this week's The Friday Thing (quoted in full to give you context)
Time poor? Know all with a 5-7-5 syllable news round-up...
lies lies lies lies lies
lies lies lies lies lies lies lies
someone stop the lies
August 27, 2003
I love Australian slang
I love Australian slang
The perfect simile...
Okay, so I'm a little drunk*, but I swore to my current company this evening I would blog this. So instead of them suffering my rants about blogging, you have to suffer their conversation about real life.
The Hutton Enquiry - yes, that's like an episode of Spooks written by James Joyce, isn't it?
Ah, Happy Times.
* AlanC, this is why I've not replied to your email yet.
August 26, 2003
Whinge Whinge Whinge
The fabulous Hangingday Journal beautifully sums up the polemic of this weekend's Edinburgh TV festival
Tony Ball of Sky took the time this week to tell the Edinburgh TV Festival about his clever proposals whereby the state forces the BBC to sell 'EastEnders', 'Casualty' and 'Have I Got News For You?' to its rivals, and stops the BBC buying '24' and other popular foreign programmes. And the laughter had barely died down before the BBC suggested that it makes its programmes -- which are better than Poor Tony's anyway -- even more freely available to those that have paid for them. Well, it's not fair. What chance does 'Loaded in Ibiza' face then? It's not fair.
It's kind of strange seeing all this stuff about 'making content available online' - when I was at Banff's Interactive Screen last year I saw some brilliant ideas from Jamie King, Alan Toner and James Love about how rights management could work in the future. I even sent a flurry of emails explaining their work and trying to get them in to see the highups in BBC strategy. I still wonder if my strange 'you may disagree, but you ought to know about these alien ideas' rants were a catalyst for Lessig et al's involvement.
Be you a fan of Lee and Herring, Kitsch, or silly synthesiser rigs, the Ian Griffin page works on so many levels...
This wonderful page of soundbites from the Edinburgh TV Festival makes me forget the endless hanging around with groups of people you already know, drinking drinks you can't afford.
"I'm very sorry that I said it wasn't my job to make independents rich. What I should have said it wasn't my job to make you rich, it was your job to make you rich"
Dyke's mea culpa for his now infamous comment before Lord Puttnam's communications bill committee
Next year, somehow, I'm going again.
August 25, 2003
A problem shared is a problem halved.
But take, for example, the phrase "Its so annoying - I've got that Cheeky Girls song going round and round and round in my head."
I'll leave you also to ponder that one.
August 21, 2003
I get the impression that Associated New Media have now stopped pretending that they're nothing to do with the london flashmob.
Talking of which...
You simply MUST go and pre-subscribe to HD's forthcoming publication London News Review. The deal's this - you give them a fiver up front, and you get issue zero PLUS an invite to their launch party PLUS your fiver back as a discount on a subscription to the real thing. Top one eh? Oh, and the content looks like it's going to be bloody marvellous - Richard Herring, Ben Moor, Jeanette Winterson on top of all the usual fab stuff from Paul, Charlie and Alan from The Friday Thing.
Go part with cash. You will not regret it.
Ah how droll.
Further to my barrel-scraping post below, it turns out Lapdance Island never existed and is hilarious jape for a forthcoming comedy show.
why leith? lets you find out what the stars will be getting up to when they come to Edinburgh for this year's MTV European Music Awards.
Chris and Gwyneth can escape the paparazzi at the Ocean Cafe
August 19, 2003
Blogs have a 'Diary format'
But not necessarily an "actual alive person who's making facial gestures back to you format".
alicia keys' blog makes for rather mad reading.
Via the fab No Rock and Roll Fun - it's been FAR too long since I last read this.
From an internal survey on 'whats on your stereo'
Har Mar Superstar
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (watch out for these dudes)
The Coral (new album)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Primal Scream (new album out soon)
Ween (all albums)
Kraftwerk (not so up and coming, just classik!)
Kings of Leon
The Fat Truckers (rude, crude 'an' rockin')
Snoop Dogg/Best of Death Row (oldies but goodies, what can i say?)
Kelis w/ Richard X
White Stripes (White Elephant)
Peaches (all albums)
Insignificant OthersThrice (emo/punky)
Cursive (from Nebraska, a bit emo and very very epic)
Har Mar Superstar
Futureheads (from Sunderland, produced by Andy Gill of Gang of 4 fame)
Radiohead (always and forever)
Graham Coxon (watch out for new album later in the year produced by Stephen Street)
Queens of the Stone Age
Jane's Addiction (new album)
Pretty Girls Make Graves (Seattle, new album out soon)
Okay, so some of these bands aren't exactly spring chickens, but I'm suddenly aware that I have *no idea* what young folk are listening to these days. Since my iPod hit its 20GB limit and buying a new CD would mean deleting an old one, I've not searched material out in the way I once would. All the radios at home are tuned to Radio 4, and the gardening schedule means I don't catch the charts. Or, to be honest, watch the various music television outlets that much. I'm sitting here in the offices of MTV, listening to Debussy, 5-year-old triphop and also going through a slightly regressive and regrettable early-genesis phase. I look at my listening list in my blog, and realise it's not changed in months.
How did something that was the currency of my very existence, the reason for getting up in the morning, the reason for leaving shitty jobs, cease to matter?
And is there something I should be resenting for having pushed it out?
Bob Godfrey missed a trick...
Ah, how things could have been different.
Actually, apart from the sometimes-slightly-too-unreconstructed content this gallery of 3d images is worth a look.
August 18, 2003
Is that the bottom?
I can't help feeling that the barrel has been scraped just a *little* too much with E4's lapdance island
E4 is looking for 10 hot blooded male contestants to battle it out as 40 professional lap dancers do everything in their power to make it hard for them.
Good grief. Bring back national service for youth tv comissioners.
I'm just going to mention this now. I mean, I can't link to it yet, as it's a 24MB Mpeg file on a firewalled server, but when it's finally available online I'll be able to rightly claim I was the first to blog it as a work of unparalleled genius.
Those of you who've already seen it - you know I speak the truth...
August 15, 2003
Students, what are they like?
The research team at the National Human Genome Research Institute and several universities compared the same stretch of DNA in a chimpanzee, baboon, cat, dog, cow, pig, rat, mouse, chicken, zebrafish and two species of pufferfish - the Japanese delicacy Fugu and Tetraodon - with human DNA
Those last two sound just a little incongruous. Sounds to me a a bit more like someone had a few beers in the lab and decided to chuck some of their sushi in the machine as well...
More from Ditchley
Some argued that in rolling news corrections of a sort were indeed issued as stories were changed in the light of new facts or circumstances. Others maintained that the damage caused by the original inaccuracies remained as viewers might not necessarily see the later programmes.
Which sounds to me a lot like the online publishing model. 'Put it up, and if it's wrong or not good enough, change it as you go along'
James Crabtree has just mad a fascinating post on the work of the Ditchley Park thinktank. This is a bunch of AAA wise old dogs who profoundly get the impact of new media on politics and the world. I mean, they *get it*. And put the whole lot online, should you have heard of them.
I guess there are those who are wise enough to realise that you don't need to crow once you understand something. And definitely not when you don't.
An inspiration to us all, as we grow old and grey.
August 14, 2003
Learning the mistakes of history...or not.
Looking at what's just happened to the eastern american power system, I'm sure I remember an episode of James Burke's 'Connections' that talked about exactly this sort of cascading power failure.
I scare myself
There's a convention in comedy sketches where a bunch of idiots do something really really expensive, and to keep the audience amused a little cash counter appears on screen, with numbers whizzing away.
Examples that spring to mind are when Bernard and Manny in 'Black Books' are drinking the £7,000 bottle of wine intended for the pope. Or in 'Young Persons Guide To Becoming A Rock Star' when the just-signed band don't realise just how much of their money the record company are spending on their behalf.
That came unbidden to mind when I found this fascinating and eminently clickable photostory of the renovation of a grand piano.
My wallet empathises.
August 13, 2003
Say hello to our new baby...
It's a Cramer 4ft baby grand, from between 1931 and 1940. And it's in not bad nick, given that it came from a school. Action needs a bit of evening up, but it's held its tuning through being moved. There's a *tiny* crack in the soundboard, but I'll save that for when I'm feeling rich. Other than that it's all cosmetic stuff.
August 12, 2003
If you're unrhythmic enough you can create something quite bjork-like...
August 11, 2003
The new 'send to a friend'
It's interesting that the LH Navigation of the ABC Family 'Dance Fever' site contains an invitation to IM a friend.
The text of this message is already written for you 'check out dance fever', with a link.
It's new for two reasons:
1) they're getting *you* to do much more work, and own more of that endorsement of their brand.
2) their demographic must be used to a large group of their peers being online at the same time - otherwise email would be a far more productive medium. (though there's a possibility it's an ill-thought-through idea based on no audience research whatsoever)
August 10, 2003
Cosying up with Business
Mike Edwards of Jesus Jones was once a fairly close friend. He's as witty as ever in this Guardian article about being asked to play a corporate gig.
The offer was for three shows in under two weeks, any costs we could dream up, accommodation (one person per room) in the same five-star Florida hotel as the conference delegates and a fee that was in multiples of the profit we'd make on the tour.
A "show" was the one song, twice. That would have been seven minutes a night but without the too-wild-for-commerce guitar solo and an abbreviated last chorus I'd call it an even 360 seconds.
August 08, 2003
Why do they keep yelling at me? should be compulsory reading for most technical types who think they are good communicators but probably aren't. Interestingly it points out that one of the skills that makes you good at the job (being a bit attention-deficit so you can switch tasks quickly) is also the thing that means you can't remember what you were doing when asked to account for your time.
If you don't tell your manager what you're doing in a way that they can easily communicate to their peers, you're creating a lot of new work for your manager in two ways: first, by creating a need for them to defend you to their peers, and secondly by making it actually difficult for them to do so. Good managers will review and evaluate their own focus and resource allocation continually. Making it easy for them do to so is good for both of you.
It's only a beginning, but it's a good beginning.
(Via paranoid fish/links)
Lordy I'm In Trouble
I've just spent far too long wandering round the Guardian DVD rental thingy.
But it *so* badly needs a wishlist feature. I want to collate a list of films to rent 'at some stage'. Sometimes I know what I want to see, sometimes I don't - and under those circumstances being able to browse an old list would be ideal...
August 07, 2003
On a hot summer night, do you offer your heart to the wolf with the red wine?
A little bit of inspiration struck last night and we went to bed with much needed 'cold water bottles'.
I imagine, like me, you've got a Rapid Ice wine cooler in your freezer, waiting for that next bottle of white.
Wrap it in a tea towel and take it to bed with you tonight. It'll provide a small focus of cool in a world where everything seems hot. Particularly nice at the top of your chest, where the blood vessels are near the surface.
And you can pop it back into the freezer each morning.
(Life insurers please look away here.)
Of course, if you're the sort of person who has several of these ready at any given time, for *those* sorts of evenings, then you can provide one to your sleeping companion too!
PS: Guests chez Dolan - it stayed in its tea towel and was only used in savoury places. You don't have to eye up drinks I serve you suspiciously.
August 06, 2003
Wishing I Was There
Steve Bennet's Edinburgh Festival blog is settling down very nicely.
Of all the festivals in Edinburgh, the biggest is surely the International Flyer Festival.
Here you go then
After a bit of messing about (and realising that it would take longer for me to remember how variables in regular expressions worked than it would to do it by hand) I present the following sample document for your delight:
Hansard is a Blog - Discuss (pt2)
This could be easier than I thought.
I thought it was all pulled from a database (beware changing syntax) but no, actually the database parses and highlights a flat page with a static URL.
Next to every entry in that page is an <a name="anchorstring"> tag, used so the hansard search can take you directly to the line in question.
We just need to get this (through a pretty simple Perl script I reckon) to also have <a href="http://staticdocumenturl#anchorstring"><img src="linkicon.gif" alt="permalink"></a> and voila we have permalinks.
I'm supposed to be doing a job application today, but if I get a moment or fancy a break I'll put together some mockups.
August 05, 2003
Tom Watson is definitely not alone
I moved a while back. As I'm trying to persuade someone else to move to the same area I spent a while poking around in UMS and stumbled across what my MP's been up to.
It's then that I realised MPs have no need for blogs. They've had one for years. Nay centuries. Okay, so it's a text representation of an audblog, and it needs permalinks, but searching for your MP's name in Hansard (you'll need to tick the 'commons hansard' box) gives an accurate insight into what they're doing for you to represent your views in your constituency.
To be honest, I think giving them blogs isn't going to increase the access to democracy in the way that's needed. I think the access-rich will just get richer.
Lets put permalinks, comments and trackback on Hansard, and get the MPs to concentrate on working the machine for the (more visible and accountable) benefit of the country.
August 04, 2003
Silent but Deadly
It wasn't until Chris's recent posting to my comments system that I realised his blog was once more up and running.
Anyway, having just spent a truly beautiful week off, I can completely understand what's been keeping him going recently. And how silly struggles at work are such a powerful metaphor.
In some ways this post reminded me of my early days of involvement in the blog world. (Or indeed Usenet if we go back to the spam-free days of Demon and DOS) Reading posts on cert
This is why I blog. Not to change the world. Not to expound my theories on the world of media. Not because I'm a frustrated journalist. Not to air my contact book or hectic social schedule. It's to (hopefully) put back in what I take out.
Anyway, my little corner of pseudo-East London will do mighty fine, but I still feel like I can't wait for retirement. Sitting at home, thinking, reading, writing and spending time chatting and larking about with my lovely lady - it'll suit me just fine thank you.
I promise I'll write about it while it's happening.
It's really her news, but...
...as she hasn't started using the blog I set up for her I'm going to announce it here.
This morning, during a routine checkup at the doctors, my wife heard the heartbeat of our 15-week-old baby (in waiting). Loud and clear.
I don't have a degree.
There are a lot of good reasons for why this didn't happen. Indeed, my career now depends on the things I did instead. (And some of the early web-meets-video projects I was involved in couldn't have happened without this experience.)
But sometimes I get little reminders that this situation could have worked out more happily had I managed to keep interested in applied maths as well.
There's a job ad I've seen, one that I believe I'm eminently qualified for. And nestled in the job description is the innocent little phrase "must have a good honours degree or postgraduate qualification in a relevant discipline".
Having been involved in this game for so long, I kind of believe that the rest of my CV will keep me going through.
But what if an over-earnest HR person needs to find a quick way of whittling down 30 applicants to a shortlist of 5?
My future suddenly seems very fragile.