Mar 09 2008

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Dear Santa

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:37:28 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

Please will you bring me an iPhone?

It’s funny how we devout Apple followers get excited at absolutely every new product. The iProduct spoof ad is nearly two years old but it’s still so true.

I don’t even know what I’d do with an iPhone. I use my BlackBerry as my everyday ‘phone. I have an iPod but I only really use it on long, weekend car journeys, or when I’m travelling. I guess the ability to carry photos and videos around with me would be nice, but it’s not overly compelling.

I still want one though.

At long last!

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:37:51 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

My new creds document’s finally ready. And I’m rather pleased with it.

Got it back from the printers at 3pm yesterday, just in time for our Future of the Commonwealth event, of which more later.

Click here to download the pdf.

Public Affairs

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:38:21 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Forging a career in politics? Beware the kiss-and-tell blog.

It all ends in tears.

(via Jessica Cutler)

About that gift horse …

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:38:41 GMT. 7 comments. Top.

It’s very nice, and quite shrewd, of Thresher to have dropped their 40% off voucher into the ether. It’s giving the viral marketing geeks loads to talk about, and more than a handful of blogs have picked it up.

But hang on a mo.

I live a few doors down from a Thresher – no, before you ask, that’s not why we bought the house. But I do patronise it fairly regularly. I enjoy the RAF stories of the gentleman who works there, and they sell a decent range of Ben & Jerry’s. Point being, ever since we moved in they’ve been doing three-for-two on all wine and champagne, an effective 33% off.

So, not to look a gift horse in the mouth or anything, but the 40% voucher is actually only worth 7.67%.

Still not a bad saving, but it doesn’t sound quite as viral as 40%, does it?

Pssst! If you want more vouchers … Selfridges GAP Borders

The Times gets saucy

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:38:56 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

I’m not deliberately picking up on others’ mistakes, although from yesterday’s and today’s posts you might think so. But a brief, rapidly-corrected blunder by the folks at timesonline yesterday is worthy of comment.

The Star Wars Kid is where it’s at this week. Even the broadsheets are talking about him. The Times, for example, in its commentary yesterday on the Viral Factory’s research into viral videos, lists the top ten clips as downloaded by the rest of us.

All fine if you’re reading the print version. And, as you’d expect, the online version of the article carries links to each of the Top 10 clips mentioned.

Including Kylie Minogue’s Agent Provocateur ad, and something called One Night in Paris.

The Times figured this out pretty quick – by lunchtime yesterday the two links in question had disappeared. But for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon, one of the bastions of the British press was linking directly to some pretty saucy stuff.

The other eight links in the article remain – including the not altogether un-risqué Trojan Games … Nice to see someone at the our nation’s newspaper of record has a sense of humour.

Déjà blu?

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:39:14 GMT. 2 comments. Top.

I’m not sure what the past participle of the French verb blogger would be – bloggé didn’t feel right. But the title of this post seems fitting enough to describe Strumpette’s repetition of a two-month-old story yesterday.

Having said which, if you’re going to repeat-blog, the Bell Pott party conference fiasco is one story well worth repeating as a salutory lesson for all of us.

Harpdogs reunited

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:39:34 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Everyone remembers Friends Reunited, perhaps one of the original (and certainly pre web2.0) social networking websites. It kicked off five or so years ago and appears to still be going strong. You sign up, fill in your profile and reacquaint yourself with all the people you’ve lost touch with, so that you can remember why you stopped calling.

Well this week we had a bit of reuniting of our own going on here at Collective Conversations.

In Tuesday’s Paler shade of Bach I recounted the brief history of Southern Discomfort, which sadly ceased to be almost fifteen years ago when University got in the way of a music career which promised to be at best mediocre.

Yesterday my blog brought me one heck of a surprise: A comment from Guy Hedgecoe, my erstwhile partner in crime who disappeared off to Venezuela sometime in the mid 1990s.

Here at H&K we’re great believers in the power of connections. Blogs (and the ‘net in general) connect. QED.

And don’t take my word for it – look what happened to Dom earlier this year.

Guy, I’ll be in touch.

Online democracy, or astroturfing open season?

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:39:53 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

Kudos to Tony and co for the launch this week of Number 10′s online petitions website. Thanks to some clever coding from the people over at mySociety, you can now petition the PM online.

The website’s only been up for two days but is already proving tremendously popular, with petitions requesting the PM to do everything from resign immediately to stand on his head and juggle ice cream. I wonder which they’d like him to do first?

Now, on the face of it I think the ePetition website is a great idea. Kind of like a citizens’ EDM website, although setting up an online petition does rather rob the petitioners of the pomp and circumstance of hand-delivering a petition to the black door with the wonky zero.

But I’ve a niggling concern. If you believe the various commentaries and observations, our friends over at Borkowski are in trouble (again), this time for apparently manipulating YouTube rankings.

Taking this one step further, how easy is it going to be for those pressure groups (or, dare I say it, lobbying firms) with either the time, manpower or resource, to artificially inflate a petition’s popularity?

I’m sure mySociety have thought of this, but on the face of it the ePetitions site does look an awful lot like an open invitation to astroturfing. Which can’t be good.

Microsoft Firefox

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:40:16 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

This is brilliant. Just don’t blame me if it gives you nightmares.

A paler shade of Bach

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:40:35 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

When I was sixteen I co-founded a bluesy harmomica duo known as The Harpdog’s Tale with my friend, Guy Hedgecoe (Incidentally, Guy, if you’re reading this, give me a shout). With the addition of Jon Cornwell on guitar, Barney Edwards on bongos, and Al Harcourt-Smith‘s gravelly vocals, we became Southern Discomfort.

Southern Discomfort enjoyed more than moderate success, staging impromptu performances in classrooms, quadrangles and dining halls – in fact, now I think of it, did we invent flash-mobbing, a decade or so before its time? We played the odd more organised gig, too, and culminated, one balmy Wednesday afternoon in June of 1992, with a ninety-minute live session recorded by Tim Clark.

Our material ranged from popular blues covers – The Champs’ Tequila, bits of Rolling Stones and so on – to some straightforward, three-chord original material. We even jazzed up (some might say bastardised) La Marseillaise for “French Week”.

One of Guy’s and my early triumphs was a mournful, perhaps even mesmerising, two-Hohner rendition of A Whiter Shade of Pale. The crowds loved it. Which is perhaps why I’m more than a little saddened by this week’s court battle between Gary Brooker and Matthew Fisher over the latter’s desire to be included in the song’s credits – and its royalties.

Legends abound as to how AWSoP’s Bach-esque organ solo came into being. Some accounts tell of Fisher writing it, others of a chance turning upside down of some Well Tempered Clavier sheet music. Which wouldn’t surprise me. The TV news last night dismissed Procol Harum as a one-hit wonder, but those of us more familiar with the delights of Conquistador and She Wandered Through the Garden Fence will be well aware of the inclusion (at Gary’s suggestion) of more Bach: Specifically, bits of Prelude No 1 in C
major
, not to mention a smattering of Tchaikovsky, in the middle of Fisher’s Repent Walpurgis.

Be that as it may, I think it’s a tremendous shame that, four decades on, Matt and Gary have resorted to such a public fight. Because if anyone genuinely knows the truth of how that organ solo came about, it’s those two.

This wrangling will never happen to me and Guy, of course.

Our album sleeve contained the crucial words: “All original material written and performed by Southern Discomfort“.

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