Archive for October, 2006

Oct 31 2006

We’re all criminals

Published by under Comms,Music,Tech

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Am I the only one today who’s wondering whether, perhaps, the IPPR doesn’t have enough to think about?

To be fair, I’ve not read their latest 104-page report, entitled Public Innovation: Intellectual Property in a Digital Age, in full. But a quick snapshot of the consequent media coverage has left me wondering what all the fuss is about.

Yes, today’s copyright statutes are a little outmoded. As is so often the case, legislation has failed (OK, admittedly by a couple of centuries) to keep pace with technology. But claiming we’re all criminals is going a bit far. Besides, the BPI reassured us back in June that sporting a pair of white headphones was unlikely to attract the attention of their legal team.

Before the , before mp3 and yes, even before the Compact Disc, I spent much of the 1980s making ‘mix’ tapes on my twin-deck ghetto blaster (with graphic equaliser and turbo-woofer, thankyou), for listening to in my cutting edge .

Sometimes I made copies of my own music, either because attempts at a vinyl-playing Walkman were guaranteed to fail, or because I knew my Mum’s car stereo had a habit of chewing tapes and I wanted to preserve the original.

Sometimes, shock horror, I copied my friends’ music. Sure, you got added hiss and crackle, but it was free. And when those new-fangled CD things came out, even the quality wasn’t too bad.

Fast-forward a couple of decades, and all that’s changed is the medium. People still copy their own music, to make it portable. And they still copy their friends’ music – it’s free, and only feels a little bit naughty. Home taping hasn’t killed music, any more than video killed the radio star.

Strictly speaking, then, the IPPR’s probably right. But aren’t there one or two more important bits of broke legislation that need fixing?

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Oct 30 2006

That apostrophe again

Published by under Comms,Media,Tech

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Clicking on the SLOB button on Leo’s blog the other day I ended up, a couple of clicks later, at the answer to the question with which I was wrestling a couple of weeks ago. And I was right, although perhaps for the wrong reasons.

Thanks to the marvels of the Way Back Machine
- a sort of Back to the Future of the internet, if you will – we can
witness the birth of the word “blog”. On 12th October, 1999, weblog became we blog
not through the application of an apostrophe, but thanks to a question
of pronunciation and the insertion of a simple space. If you’re
clicking through, scroll down a page or two and look at the “for what
it’s worth” box on the left.

So now you know. I should point
out, though, that as well as having (probably) coined the word “blog”
seven years ago, Peter writes some excellent stuff back in the
present. Well worth a look.

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Oct 27 2006

Firefox 2, IE 0

Published by under Digital,Media,Tech

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A bit of a Friday tech roundup.

MacExpo‘s on – I hope to get over there either this afternoon or tomorrow. Very exciting.

Lots of hullabaloo this week about Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox v2. But really, it’s a no-brainer. Microsoft‘s latest does nothing to tempt me away from Firefox, and people are finding holes in IE7 already. The clincher for me is the ‘find text’ function – one that I use all the time, and the Firefox implementation is sooooo much slicker than in IE. Firefox ‘just works’ in such a way that it’s almost Mac-like.

Ah yes, the Mac. I love my Macs. All five of them. I just wish we could use them in the office. This week as an experiment I’ve been using Firefox v2 instead of Safari as the default browser on my MacBook Pro. It doesn’t look as slick, but its plugin implementation is way better. And as yet I’ve not come across anything that’s made me want to switch back to Safari. So I think I’ll stick with it – I can always install Firefoxy to get the look I’m after.

Now, if only Mozilla could channel as much effort into improving Thunderbird.

Apple’s pro laptops went Core2 this week, which makes my beloved machine yesterday’s technology. But honestly, how much power do we really need? I can do 75% of what I need on my trusty old hot-rodded Pismo, which is why I refuse to get rid of it.

Vista‘s been delayed again. Oh.

Jon Johansen looks to have succeeded where legislators have (thus far) failed, by rendering DRM redundant. And what’s he going to do with his invention? License it of course. Oh, the irony.

And in other news, I hear Andy Taylor’s quit Duran Duran. I’m sure he has his reasons, but it’s a sad day nonetheless.

Clocks go back this weekend – woo hoo!

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Oct 26 2006

If it floats your boat …

Published by under Digital

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Over on my sidebar there’s a link list entitled “5 most read” – a concept I shamelessly stole from David.

I like the idea for two reasons. Firstly it should (hopefully) drive a bit more traffic. And secondly, it’s rather instructive to find out what you’re all reading.

Up until last week, my top five most read posts were:

1 – Whatever happened to Bird ‘Flu?
2 – Scratching a little deeper … and leaving Tony alone
3 – Scientific breakthrough or monumental PR stunt?
4 – A blog is for life …
5 – Reduce, reuse, recycle – yes, it’s hip to be green

But last week I took another look at the stats and revised the sidebar, and a funny thing’s happened.

The top two remain the same. ‘A blog is for life‘ moves up from 4th to 3rd. But – and here’s the killer – Noel Edmonds and Mr Blobby are straight into the chart at number 4, kicking Freecycle off the list altogether.

Well, if that’s what you want to read, I shall do my best to come up with similar pearls of devastating insight. But I have to say, I’m just a wee bit disappointed that some of my personal favourites – Newsweek, Citizen Legislation and Blogs Need Comments, aren’t higher up the rankings.

Just out of interest, here’s the current top ten:

1 – Bird Flu
2 – Tony
3 – A blog is for life
4 – Borkowski
5 – Steorn
6 – Freecycle
7 – Newsweek
8 – Charles Dunstone
9 – Builders
10 – Apostrophe

Of course if you’ve a personal favourite that isn’t in the top ten (and someone must have found Gaun Yersel Billy! funny), you’ll just have to persuade all your mates to read it, won’t you …?

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Oct 25 2006

How cool is this?!

Published by under Digital,Politics

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Just occasionally, whilst randomly ‘surfing’ with no particular destination or subject matter in mind, one comes across a truly outstanding website.

www.breathingearth.net is a case in point. I can’t even remember the route through which I stumbled upon it, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is the cleverly simple way in which breathingearth.net crystallises the direction our fragile earth is taking.

What do I mean? Well, in the short time it’s taken me to write this, 137,000 tonnes of CO2 have been emitted. 895 people have been born. 347 people have died. Of course, having just written that sentence, the numbers are already out of date.

Give it a try, leave it running for a while, and see how it makes you feel.

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Oct 17 2006

Gaun Yersel, Billy!

Published by under Digital,Media

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As the lines between social and mainstream media become increasingly blurred, here’s the perfect illustration of why comments – whether on a blog or newspaper article – are a good thing.

And hey, any excuse to link to the finest newspaper in the world

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Oct 13 2006

TalkTalk, ListenListen – blogs need comments.

Published by under Digital

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I talked a couple of weeks ago of the ‘s decision to designate an ‘official’ . The chap they chose, Jonathan Roberts, hasn’t enabled comments on his Blog.

Which is a shame. Because if he did, I’d have been able to ask him there whether the person he’s calling a ‘prat’ is

(a) Ian Hyslop, Senior Lecturer at UEL,
(b) Ian Hyslop, the co-founder of ‘My Life, My Legacy’, or
(c) Ian Hyslop, the proprietor of “Sydney’s best ever gay sauna and sex spot” (scroll down, it’s worth it).

Or perhaps it’s Ian Hislop.

Carphone Warehouse‘s Charles Dunstone doesn’t allow comments on his all-too-infrequent blog posts either. Again, a shame, albeit perhaps understandable given their current customer service issues.

If he did, I’d like to ask him how he intends to go about integrating TalkTalk and AOL to form the UK’s third-largest ISP, and improve customer service at the same time (and when I’m going to get the 8 meg service I’m paying for). Or maybe how his business is going to stack up if he loses Orange as well as Vodafone

Point is, credible blogs need comments, dialogue and constructive criticism, otherwise we’re just talking in a vacuum.

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Oct 12 2006

An apostrophe too far?

Published by under Misc

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I’m not alone in being a bit of a stickler for punctuation. Grammar, too, but we’ll save that for another time.

One of my particular bugbears is the apostrophe. You find them in all the wrong places these days, while often their omission is nothing short of criminal. A plane is a woodworking tool or geometric surface; the repeatedly-delayed A380 is a ‘plane.

On a particularly pernickety day, it’s all I can do to stop myself from forcibly educating the village greengrocer as to why it’s OK for him to sell “Cauli’s” but not “Apple’s”. And “Spud’s” belongs to the funny scarecrow off Bob the Builder, or a gas fitter I once knew whose real name was Duncan.

If I were a superhero, I’d be Apostrophe Man (except someone else has got there first). I’ve even got the slogan all ready:

Apostrophe Man: Saving the World from Bad Punctuation

So why, then, did I balk at an email I received earlier this week that talked about my ‘blog? After all, it’s a weblog. So contracted, the word must surely become ‘blog?

Sorry, no. Don’t ask me why, it just doesn’t look right. Common usage, the exception that proves the rule, ascribe whatever rationale to it you like, but I just can’t bring myself to apostrophise the word blog.

Don’t think I’m hanging up my cape just yet, though. There are still punctuational wrongs to be righted. Now excuse me, my ‘phone’s ringing.

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Oct 10 2006

GooTube

Published by under Digital

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Everyone and his blog seems to have something to say about the / acquisition. Given my demonstrable interest in social media, it’s little surprise that a steady stream of colleagues have been asking me my opinion throughout the day.

Well, since you ask, I’m slightly underwhelmed. And to be honest, I’m far more concerned about this week’s other big news – just how do you solve a problem like Korea?

I’ve always been a little puzzled by YouTube, and specifically by how it intended to make any money. We now know that the answer to that question was “sell the business to Google for $1.65 Billion” – and fair enough.

Buying YouTube is a pretty logical move for Google, and I imagine Microsoft are rather cross – MSN Soapbox must be pretty much dead in the water now that YouTube has the power of Google behind it.

Ah yes, the power of Google. Trouble is, everyone knows that Google is a commercial concern. Paid-for advertising, sponsored search results, and all kinds of controversy whenever they change the algorithms or catch someone manipulating the rankings. Contrast that with YouTube’s hitherto somewhat naïve (and loss-making) model of a few banner ads here and there.

Those in favour of today’s announcement would point to a new paradigm in online searching, where Google brings us results in text, picture and video format all at once. Social media meets mass-market search. But I wonder if YouTube might be losing its user-generated appeal, its ‘innocence’, if you like, along the way?

Apologies, by the way, for the unintentional eight-day blogging hiatus. Will try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

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Oct 02 2006

Career-limiting emails and Noel Edmonds

Published by under Comms,Media

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I’m surprised more blogs haven’t commented on the / / emails, which started to circulate on Friday afternoon. Hats off to … The World’s Leading … and Renaissance Chambara for picking up the baton and saving me the trouble of reproducing the exchange here.

The emails speak for themselves, really – a foot-shooting episode to rival that of a couple of months ago and another reminder, if one were needed, that it could be any of us, at any time, if we’re not careful. Given that one of the cc recipients is Ian Hall from I’ll be interested to see their take on this, if any, come Thursday.

One further observation: there’s a delicious irony in these emails breaking cover on the same day as Mark Borkowski sprinkled a little spice on ’ 186mph, 4.30am, exploits, by letting slip (intentionally, perhaps, Mark?) that the bearded comeback kid was, in fact, at the time …

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