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February 29, 2004

Back in the zone

This post on Skip's Acorn Treasury made me very very very cross.

It's a particular type of seething fury that I thought was long gone, but James' post brings it right back.

This is how things work in the BBC. Imagine you're a department. You want to do something? Fine - announce you're doing it and see what happens. The best outcome is that you suddenly end up doing it - and the very worst thing that will happen is that you're suddenly locked in a "compromise" about a "co-production".

What do some people think they're up to behaving like this when DCMS review is iminent?

Posted by Tom Dolan at 05:43 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Mothers day

The famous children's author Penny Dolan is in today's Sunday Times kids section 'Funday Times'. No web link sadly.

And as to other mothering matters: Small person has a) started smiling, b) got used to the idea of being a baby and doesn't need to cry any more unless there's actually something wrong. (Or at least that's what the last 48 hours would seem to indicate). Odd, but fascinating, to see a sense of contentment in self in someone so tiny.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ah yes, we *have* been here before...

A lovely piece from Clay Shirky's NEC newsletter on the Dean campaign.

the hard thing to explain is not how the Dean campaign blew such a huge lead, but rather why we ever thought that lead actually existed. Dean’s campaign didn’t just fail, it dissolved on contact with reality.

As I read this piece, and also as I thought about Tom Steinberg's ConConUK speech on the same subject I've realised that a lot of the hype mechanisms, knee-jerk excitements, emphasis on money raised rather than what return you'll get have a very close correlation with the dotcom boom and bust. (And, as I'm sure Matt Locke will point out, many telecoms and engineering booms and busts before that.)

Why do we let ourselves get so overexcited about this? Did we get duped into signing up to Orkut without reading the terms and conditions because we were desperate for something better than friendster and everyone was saying it was better? Or because it actually *was* better than friendster?

I suppose this is the lesson - when we consider the implication of each new piece of software or technology that might change our lives by some amount yet to be determined - we're older and wiser, but not old and wise. They say that salesmen sell dreams not reality - perhaps we need to stop selling to ourselves.

As Clay says: We must take care not to re-write history so that we ‘always knew’ what was going to happen.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 27, 2004

About this spying business...

One of the things I'm finding odd is that everyone's pointing the finger at MI5/6 and saying 'oooooooh bad people' as a result of Clare Short's interview yesterday.

The wierd thing is, when she was interviewed on Channel 4 news, she seemed to be deliberately holding back from saying that it was British intelligence that had prepared the report. The report had been obtained, and she saw it, if I remember correctly.

Anyway, it's fascinating stuff, and it's currently available to watch online.

(Jon Snow does a great job of not saying 'coo really blimey gosh'.)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 05:20 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Nonweb people always think the web is easy

Ah, this story about the Space website
is very sad.

Brings back many (un)happy memories of doing something very similar.

And I'd rather liked 'Tin Planet' as well...

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

Well overheard

Currybet gives us a timely reminder just how far at the end of bell curve we are.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 26, 2004

The Dolan Principle

There are some great thinkers out there on the internet, who have been able to summarise properties of modern media in a pithy saying.

I'm not one of those people.

But I'm *nearly* one of those people.

I'll spot a property of modern media, half think it through, and then spot a way of blowing a raspberry at the end. It comes from years of working on entertainment brands rather than for BBC News or the Guardian. I've tried being sincere, but just don't find it as satisfying.

So, while Loosemore's Law profoundly says:

intolerence of delay increases proportionally with speed of connection

I can only offer this:

[clears throat]

On the internet you are only ever seven clicks away from pornography.

The trick is knowing which seven clicks.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 01:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 25, 2004

Only Five Weeks To Go

...for you to send in *your* views to the BBC Charter Review.

Might be worth faxing your mp too.

(But I draw the line at this bloody 'are you a modern media consumer we want your feedback for 40 quid' thing that's going round. Regular readers will understand that they had their change to get my views and blew it... :-)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 24, 2004

More Pride, I'm Afraid

My super-talented cousin just came third in the young drummer of the year competition.

You could look for her surname in the body text, or make it easy for yourself and note the use of the word 'her' earlier in this sentence.

She's always been shockingly good to my amateur ears - to have it confirmed by the pros is wonderful. Expect great things of her...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Dublin Core

I went to ConConUK tonight in one of my favourite quiet pubs, the Dublin Castle. Which tonight wasn't quiet at all.

It was pretty good actually.

The venue was very very crowded. Hurrah to MattL and Alice and Paula for budging up to make room for me. Good oratory from Tom Loosemore. Tom Steinberg raised lots of good points about e-Democracy, particularly the folly measuring success in terms of how much you raise. Someone did a great talk going through why all the other politics ideas were bollocks. (But there was a great African wireless email idea that was like a very very slow token ring network) Dave Green did a talk on chocolate that spontaneously became a really funny comedy routine. Finally got to tell Cass a bunch of things that needed to be changed on Celebdaq. Tom Coates ranted in a much more measured way than previous times I've seen him. All the Geo stuff was pointless. I owe Dan Dixon a drink.

Will write up more thoughts soon.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 01:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 23, 2004

If you can no longer press your own white label...

As Yoz points out in The RIAA Will Eat Itself, is this the beginning of the end for vinyl? Will CD-based, and digital decks start taking over in clubs?

(The DJ as an analogue with Magic Lantern operator is going to start breaking down here...)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 03:39 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Things the world should know about pregnancy. #1

Okay, roundup of useful thoughts from the whole of the last nine months.

1) There are two sorts of books you will need to read if you are a lady.

- There is the getting-pregnant/during pregnancy book - of varying levels of hectoring. The best of these we found was 'What to expect when you're expecting'. Sheila Kitzinger's index didn't line up, and the pictures of 'how to have sex while pregnant' could put you off the whole idea.

- Then there is the your baby has turned up, what do you do sort of book. Everyone goes on about Gina Ford's 'Contented Little Baby' book, which is a great ideal, if you're a complete nazi. It felt very inhuman, but just as daft were all the bits of advice about kids-in-bed feed-on-demand etc. Our salvation came in the shape of 'Secrets of the Baby Whisperer' which, despite being written in a cod-yorkshire accent for american readers (think Daphne from Frasier) actually contains the most pragmatic advice. Like 'stop and look at your baby and work out what they're trying to tell you before you project your own fears onto them'. We can now (usually) tell the difference between tired, hungry, bored and painful crying which helps a lot.

These two types of books do completely different things, and there's not really that much overlap between them. Read the first as you go, and skim the second until just before the baby turns up. At which point hand it to your partner because...

2) There are virtually no books to read in advance that are any use if you are a man.
We like to know what we're supposed to *do*. All these books are about how women will feel about internal changes going on in them, and their worries and concerns.
I wanted a to-do list, or a diagnosis flowchart. No books had that.
We had a great Haynes Manual for 'Baby' which seemed to do the job, and was certainly an eyeopener in terms of how to look at it all - an overview that whetted your appetite.
There'a a 'ParenTalk' book that was pretty good which dispelled lots of myths, and gave me a route into the other 'mum-oriented' books, but it's sadly no longer available. Booooooo.


When the baby turns up, we have a certain amount of time on our hands and there are tangible problems to solve. That's when the second sort of mum book is great and we can really come into our own.

3) Men can get more out of NCT classes than women.
(Once we get over our embarrasment.)

4) The sleep deprivation isn't as bad as you think.
For the first week anyway. Then it gets lots lots lots worse. But after about four weeks you've got as tired as you're going to get, and you can cope more.

5) Stop drinking.
Getting up in the middle of the night is tough enough without also being a bit dopey because you're mid-hangover. At the level of tiredness two glasses of wine becomes too much. Shrink your ambitions now.

6) You won't talk about anything but your kids afterwards for a couple of weeks.
There are two reasons for this, so relax:
i) Kids are genuinely fascinating
ii) You don't have time to do anything else that you could talk about.
Avoid talking about poo though. It is very boring.

7) In hospital, make sure you read your notes
You can find out a lot about what's really going on that way. We were able to remind people to provide medicine etc as a result of what we'd read. And refuse other things we hadn't asked for.

8) Babies need to wear both a vest and a bodysuit thing
We didn' realise this and thought one was for summer, the other for winter. Nope.
The vesty thing goes on first, with the bodysuit over the top. The hospital staff looked at us like we were mad for only having bodysuits.

9) Nappy shock
No matter what ecological plans you've got, it's probably a good idea to get some own-brand disposable nappies to cover the first week or so. They get through about 5 or 6 a day - don't get fooled because they're very absorbent until they're suddenly not. Trust to the weight.
I'd also say get one out and try putting it on a teddybear or something. That way you can figure out how the strange miniature velcro works for you. A bit of a shock to do your first when someone is wriggling in it.
Oh, and it's not just boys that wee when you expose them to the air. It's just not jet propelled in ladies.

10) Breastfeeding - the big lie
I get very very angry about this.
In books like Miriam Stoppard's there are innocent phrases like 'there is no reason why any woman should not be able to breastfeed her baby'.
What lazy ill-considered bollocks.
Breastfeeding is hyped as this beautiful natural bonding thing.
It's not - it hurts, is messy and uncomfortable and stressful and guilt-ridden. And it's lazy pressure from the 'breast is best' crowd that can leave women getting to the point where initially dismissive midwives will 'just have a quick look' at the damage and visibly wince.
Virtuarlly everyone in our NCT class had huge huge huge problems with it.
Don't believe the hype. Do what's best for your family as a whole.

11) Finally, avoid listening to Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" at all costs
Particularly in public. Give it six months or so to fade.

[Update: some more items from later here]

Posted by Tom Dolan at 03:03 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Growing Old Acceleratedly

Damn. Well I suppose it had to happen sooner or later.

This weekend, I got my own age wrong.

In public.

I now realise I am no longer a lithe 33, but 34 going on 35. And this for someone whose self-perception oscillates between the ages of about 7 and 22.

I also feel slightly cheated. What was I doing in the intervening time? I've lost a year of things-I-was-doing-while-33!

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

February 20, 2004


Well, Mum has gone and got herself onto another illustrious shortlist again - this time it's the World Book Day 2004 'Recommended Reads' list.

Oh, and her blog about writing and stuff has now launched.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:30 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 19, 2004

And they say the internet has no memory...

From Tim Ireland's 'Universal Church of the Interactive Network' public holidays page.

Day of Incomplete Packages
(29th October)
Celebrating the occasion of the first packets sent by Charley Kline at UCLA as he tried logging into SRI (the first attempt resulted in the system crashing as the letter 'G' of 'LOGIN' was entered). The incomplete section of a gift is traditionally given to loved ones on this day, with the remainder following within three.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 17, 2004

Now this genuinely is troubling.

Everyone has occasional stints where they post about the oh-so-humorous search terms they've found in their referrer logs. 'Plastic Jam' hee hee. 'Contagious Terrapins' ha ha.

'Baby porn'.


I'm sorry folks, I do wonder if that's going to be all the talking about Daisy I'm going to be doing for a while.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 01:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 16, 2004

Not so much LazyWeb as SpuriousWeb

It's often been documented that celery is the ideal diet food, containing - as it does - less calories than it uses in the digestion process.

Yet, when cleaning out the fridge after the unpredictable home attendance of recent weeks I found a slightly soggy, brown and decomposing head of celery at the bottom of the salad compartment.

How can this be?

What are these strange bacteria that can do this? What entropy-reversing chemical reactions are going on here?


Posted by Tom Dolan at 03:22 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 13, 2004

Oh, and another thing...

...I would have missed was this view while we took Daisy to the local ponds for the first time. It was getting dark because nothing happens quickly with small people.


Vicky told me it was beautifully composed, which I thought was rather flattering given that nature did most of the work.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:49 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Talking of whom...

Madam here is growing very nicely indeed thank you. Confusing and contradictory at times, but fab nonetheless.


Piano-playing hands I reckon.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:46 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

In about twelve more hours...

Very shortly I can stop feeling slightly bitter about not going to ETCon for another year.

This fascinating, and quite possibly infuriating, gathering kicked off just as I left the beeb last year, and I seriously considered spending some of my redundancy money on going. I think it went on burgundy, a powerbook and membership of a swanky london club instead.

This year, I have a new baby who is just plain wonderful - who I can see wriggling in her moses basket over the top of the powerbook screen while I wait for the kettle to cool so I can make up some more bottles. Oh, and I'm working for a company that pays me loads more money than I was on when I went to this sort of thing regularly.

The fact they won't spend it on sending me to jollies, and that I would have chosen not to go even if they'd offered is immaterial.

There's much much more to say, but it's probably best left unsaid. It's just a wistful moment...and perhaps it won't need to happen next year.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 12, 2004

Disney takeover?

Fascinating stuff about Comcast's hostile bid for Disney.

He has come under attack by Roy Disney, nephew of the company founder, who recently accused Mr Eisner of turning the company into one that was "rapacious, soulless and always looking for the quick buck"

Well that's going to change after the takeover eh?

And blowing the Pixar deal probably wasn't the brightest start to the year. One to watch with interest...

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

February 09, 2004

There had to be an upside...

One of the few advantages I've been able to find of being stuck with a PC at work (given that it's *work's* computer and so I can't put better games on it) is that I can now read Yoz.com without the right-hand (and given my non-Perl nature, often more comprehensible :-) column being two words wide...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 04:03 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 06, 2004

Momentous Day

I've decided to change the name of the blog back from it's Vaughan-suggested moniker. She's here now, and life needs to carry on. So there.

Anyway, here are some more reasons why today was momentous:

1) Daisy's cord fell off - and it looks like she hasn't got an outy.
2) I have now been wee-ed on by my child en route to her bath. Must write to Carhartt complementing them on the absorbency of their jeans.
3) I started recreating a social network again - I went out for lunch with a friend.

Small things, but together they make a day worth having lived through.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 05, 2004

Nicely Put

Words of mass distortion, weapons of mass destruction, it's all getting very foggy down here. Some of it penetrated today by the House of Commons Defence Committee which probed the Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon who, in a new spirit of post-Hutton survival, has come back out to play in public life.

We are hopeful that he may appear on Channel 4 News tonight to discuss further the strange matter of how he knew that the 45-minute reference in Tony Blair's preamble to the Iraq war dossier only related to battlefield weapons whilst the Prime Minister was clearly of the impression that it referred to long-range ballistic missiles capable of hitting Britain.

This seems quite a big disparity, particularly as shells and mortars historically have never been regarded as weapons of mass destruction. Whoever conjured the phrase "the fog of war" and I have no doubt that many of you will tell me, they were not wrong.

From Jon Snow's Snowmail newsletter

Posted by Tom Dolan at 05:24 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 03, 2004

Tired update

Don't get me wrong, Daisy is absolutely wonderful and everything, but the crying inconsolably for a few hours at the end of each night is something Vicky and I could do without.

One of the things nobody ever tells you is the incremental change in a baby's mental condition each time they wake up after a feed/look/sleep cycle. It's incredibly perceptible that there is more and more going on inside her head.

On thursday, she developed the ability to point her eyes at something and keep them there, and then move them purposefully to something new. By friday, she had the ability to move her head and keep her eyes pointing at the same object. This week, there's a slightly different reaction between our faces, even though we're sure she doesn't know what a face is, or what it means yet. But that early proto-recognition seems to produce two different flavours of happy.

Another thing - and one I wish I didn't know - is that the whole process of the umilical cord falling off is basically controlled gangrene. The midwife asked us if the cord had started smelling yet, and we said no - but by the following day I knew exactly the smell she meant. And I could smell it *everywhere*, even over the top of the 1990 Pol Roger we toasted her in with on Saturday. I don't know, the sacrifices parents make eh?

The other thing that's happened is Vicky and I have realised we have no idea of who knows about Daisy's arrival and who doesn't - we've had two embarrasing phonecalls already from close friends we assumed had heard. So an email along the lines of 'sorry weve been a bit crap but...' is going to have to go out shortly.

Oh, and the NCT breastfeeding helpline and support services are near-godlike. Particularly when you've got a super-hungry monster like we have.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 03:09 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Go David Go.

David Hasselhoff claims he had hand in Berlin Wall falling

"In Germany children have brought me thousands of flowers."

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:01 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack