Archive for October, 2008

Oct 23 2008

Quantum of record sales

Published by under Digital,Media,Music,Russia,Tech

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… or ‘Scouting for Audiences’

Thanks to a pair of HomePlugs, an AppleTV and a bargain Samsung LCD that no-one wanted because it’s last year’s model (and it’s white), we can now enjoy all manner of digital media in the bedroom. Including – and arguably the main reason for this technological extravagance – what I shall nostalgically refer to as Virgin Radio.

[They're 'Absolute Radio' these days, apparently, which has already upset the vodka people. I assume whatever's behind this change in nomenclature is related to the appearance of those gaudily flourescent 'Zavvi' places where the good old Virgin Megastore used to be. Progress, I guess.]

But I digress. The other morning on Absolute Virgin Radio I was delighted to learn that Scouting for Girls will be releasing ‘I Wish I Was James Bond‘ as a single on November 3rd. Excellent timing – and deliberate, no doubt, coincident as it is with the UK release of Quantum of Solace on 31 October.

Fair play, chaps. I hope it sells you some records. And if you need a venue for the single’s launch party, give me a yell.

Gives me an excuse to play you the song again, too, complete with new video …

Hello Mr Bond, I’ve been expecting you.
Martini in your hand, and that eyebrow that you move.

Scouting For Girls – I Wish I Was James bond

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Oct 21 2008

Size does matter

Published by under Digital,Russia,Tech

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Russia’s big. We knew that. But sometimes it takes a new perspective to realise the extent of something you already new.

Enter ZebraMap. I love this sort of thing. I always wanted a Geochron – for now I make do with the likes of EarthDesk and OSXPlanet.

It’s just gone 8am in Moscow. 7am in Kaliningrad. For my colleagues in Ekaterinburg, it’s already after 10. It’s lunchtime in Vladivostok. And over on the Kamchatka peninsula the working day’s already ending.

Just the other side of the Bering Strait it’s still yesterday evening, but it’s too early in the morning to go there right now.

How does this translate in practice? How do you plan a conference call between Sakhalin, Moscow and Houston? Or time your announcement (or even sporting fixture) to hit prime-time in all the major cities? Or simply plan your travel across this vast country?

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Oct 15 2008

Blog Action Day: Loans that change lives

Published by under Digital,Misc,Politics

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I’ve already written something for Blog Action Day over at my FCO blog. But I feel should give it a go here too.

I hadn’t given much thought to what I was going to write. In fact, I’ve just written and deleted a thoroughly depressing draft looking at progress – or not – at feeding the world in the very nearly 24 years since Band Aid first asked us to do exactly that.

I found myself sitting on my comfy sofa in my warm flat, with my laptop that costs more than however-many-percent of the world make in a year, asking myself what the point of Blog Action Day really was. Am I really going to tell my kids in years to come (or tomorrow) that yes, Daddy helped end poverty and injustice – by blogging about it?

Then I decided to check out some of the other posts, from 11,509 sites and counting, who’ve contributed.

If you read one of them, please check out this from David Griner.

David has created a team at Kiva called ‘Social Media for Change’. Kiva, if you haven’t heard of it (I had, vaguely, but never done anything about it), lets you lend – interest free – to entrepreneurs in the developing world.

I like the idea – if you’re becoming disillusioned with top-down development, give bottom-up microfinance a go.

I especially like the mission statement David has written for the Lending Team:

We are bloggers, Twitterers, lifestreamers, networkers, podcasters and more. Some of us do it for money, others for fun. What connects us is our interest in being connected — and maybe helping change the world for the better in the process.

I’m in. And I will badger relentlessly my social media friends to come on board too. Maybe Blog Action Day can change something after all.

Here‘s the link.

Here it is again, in case you missed it.

It’s here, people.

PS it’s Global Handwashing Day, too.

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Oct 13 2008

Soyuz Train

Published by under Misc,Russia,Tech

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Soyuz TMA-13 launched yesterday, from the very same launchpad which launched Yuri Gagarin atop Vostok 1. Some fantastic photos of the launcher on the way to its launchpad at Baikonur, at Blake Hounshells’s blog over at FP Passport. Here’s one to whet your appetite.


(Credit: Dmitry Kostyukov, AFP, Getty Images)

On board is Richard Garriott, a video game developer from Texas and son of Skylab and Spacelab astronaut Owen Garriott – whose trip has apparently cost him $30 million.

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Oct 10 2008

Save Studio 60!

Published by under Digital,Media,Misc

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images.jpegWe’ve just finished watching Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. It’s typical Sorkin. West Wing-style plots, half the West Wing cast even. Not to mention the dozens of West Wing references thrown into the script. Except it’s not set in the White House, it’s set around an SNL-style sketch show in LA.

I loved it. But apparently the audiences didn’t. Or rather, not enough of them did. The Observer claims that some of them hailed Studio 60 as an ‘instant classic’, although apart from one review on IMDB I can’t find the reference.

Regardless, Studio 60 was cancelled after one series, and I’m sad.

Enter Richard Millington.

Over at his ‘FeverBee’ blog, Richard instructs us in some detail on ‘How to save a TV show‘, by mobilising online communities and generating not just necessarily just interest and pressure, but cash.

There’s 2,000-odd fans on Facebook already. I’m sure they’d all chip in a few quid. So how about it, Aaron? I’ll raise the money, you make the show? You know you want to.

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Oct 07 2008


Published by under Comms,Digital,Media,Misc,Russia

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Yesterday saw the first post on my ‘official’ FCO blog. Those of you who follow will know that the FCO has been slowly expanding its online presence, including encouraging more of us to blog on the platform. So, after much agonising, I’ve decided to give it a go.

Why agonising? @simond summed it up well in a tweet yesterday evening:

@jamesbarbour One blog not enough for you? :) Intrigued to see if/how you can manage them, especially when one is explicitly

I’m not entirely sure myself, Simon, but I’m going to try.

I’ve been following the emerging debate on civil servants blogging for some time, contributing on occasion. But there’s still a fairly hefty unresolved grey area surrounding those of us who blog in a ‘private capacity’. So, as I’ve said a couple of times, I don’t talk about work on this blog. I talk about comms, tech, politics (carefully) on occasion – whatever floats my boat outside of the office, but I steer clear of goings-on at the Embassy.

Thing is, though, I want to blog about work. I have a great job which raises all sorts of issues I’d love to share. And is the logical place to share them.

Second thing is, I’m genuinely excited by the FCO’s moves to engage online. First steps, yes, but all the more important for that. And I want to be part of it.

That’s two pretty good reasons, I think. And, provided I can find the time, I hope there’s still room for – I don’t want to clutter the FCO blog with random thoughts unconnected to my work. I reckon I can still be a civil service blogger and a civil servant who blogs.

We’ll see how it evolves.

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