Mar 09 2008

Archive page 4

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Blue Screensaver of Death

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:41:13 GMT. 4 comments. Top.

Thanks to The Register, I merrily downloaded and installed the Blue Screensaver of Death from Microsoft yesterday.

Come this morning, of course, I’d completely forgotten that I’d installed it. Cue much hilarity as James starts complaining that “my computer’s crashed!” …

I love Fridays.

Is this whole blog thing getting silly?

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:41:32 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

From today’s Daily Show mid-term coverage:

And here we have: A blogger being interviewed about blogging, while watching herself being interviewed about blogging. I wonder if she’ll blog about that?

Which illustrates an interesting point: Are we blogthusiasts merely part of a bubble that’s becoming dangerously over-inflated?

Will history in the web3.0 era conclude that the pioneers of web2.0 were, in fact, little more than a ridiculous, self-obsessed self-parody?

Does anyone read blogs, apart from other bloggers?

No, I don’t think it’s that bad. But I do think an occasional reality check is probably a good thing.

Finding the time to blog

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:41:51 GMT. 6 comments. Top.

Everybody’s talking about PhilTube. If you haven’t watched Did You Say ‘Blogging’?, do. While you’re there, check out some of the other lonelygirl15 and YouTube send-ups.

Everyone to whom I’ve shown Did You Say ‘Blogging’? found it hilarious. More than one suggested that I might have rather more in common with Phil than I’d like to admit.

Amusing point, but it raises a serious question.

Writing a blog takes time. Our friend Phil knows this only too well – he’s been “blogging the !@$&*! out of my morning”, after all. But here in agency world time is a finite and costly resource. I doubt my clients would be at all impressed if I started charging them for my blogging time. So when, and how, do we find the space in our schedules to blog?

David blogs at all sorts of strange times of day, often in slightly off-the-wall circumstances. For Tim, it’s airport lounges (I know, I’ve seen him do it). Richard Edelman, if we believe the hype, blogs at 6am.

Right now it’s lunchtime, and I’m writing this as I eat – although I could equally have written it last night whilst watching Torchwood. Sometimes I sketch out an article in my head on the way to work.

More important than when you actually write, I think, is keeping hold of ideas as they occur. I have scraps of paper with blog ideas on them, preserved in scrawl before they’re forgotten. So that when I do find the time, I have something to start from.

What about you? When do you blog?

Anonymous (political) blogs

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:42:25 GMT. 5 comments. Top.

October saw the incorporation into the blogosphere of a couple of new political blogs, Reclaim Labour and The British Bullshit Foundation. Both are pretty forthright with their opinions – but then they can afford to be, because both are anonymous.

I’m not sure how I feel about these increasingly numerous anonymous blogs. Some are more anonymous than others, some are more outspoken than others. But how should we, the reader, view the political writings of someone who won’t tell us who they are?

Anonymous or not, I do enjoy Guido and Recess Monkey. The jury’s still out on Lord Lucan. But then, I enjoy Iain Dale, Tom Watson and Kerron Cross too – “proppa bloggas”, as Sion Simon would say, who are happy to put their name to their opinions.

Thing is, if one of these Proppa Bloggas decides to declare, for example, that when Tony goes they’d rather not see Gordon as PM, their views carry much more weight than the growing ranks of anonymous “back to 1997″ mutterers.

On the other hand, the anonybloggers can get away with much more without fear of reprisal. Gossip, innuendo and assertion ahoy – no-one knows who we are, so we can say what we really feel.

A couple of blogs ago I criticised a couple of blogs who don’t allow comments. Leo commented that this was like being invited ’round for dinner and having tape slapped over your mouth. In the same way, reading an anonymous blog is like talking to someone with a paper bag over their head. But as long as you acknowledge that the paper bag is there, and the caveats it brings with it, the ensuing conversation can be just as enlightening – if not more so.


Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:42:52 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

The BBC reports this morning that YouTube is being sued by … er … the Universal Tube & Rollform Equipment Corporation of Ohio. Otherwise known as , and resident at since 1998.

Our tube and pipe machinery friends, established in 1985, are slightly miffed at the sudden increase in traffic since the explosion which has, apparently, caused them to reasses their hosting arrangements five times.

Regardless of what this says about their erstwhile host provider, I wonder whether legal action was strictly necessary. UTUBE wants YouTube to either cease operating (yeah right) or pay for UTUBE to renew its online presence. YouTube’s not exactly short of cash (or at least stock) these days. And one would have thought a freebie Google Adwords campaign could have worked wonders for UTUBE’s business.

YouTube has not, according to the Beeb, yet made itself available for comment. But as and when they do, I’d be interested to hear if the chaps from Ohio suggested discussing things over a coffee before they called in the lawyers.

Contrast this with the good natured way in which Cameron M Semmens handled the / .org confusion. It is, as the great Bob Hoskins once said, good to talk.

The internship you really want, or the job that pays better?

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:43:58 GMT. 6 comments. Top.

I’ve found myself of late having a number of conversations with bright young things embarking on careers in PR. It makes me feel old.

The context of these discussions varies – H&K’s graduate intake, a potential intern who’s come by for an informal chat, a group of students for whom I’m leading a workshop, or even a sixth form careers day. But these discussions always have a few threads in common.

One such thread is that the world of Public Affairs appears, so these bright young things tell me, to have a bit of a reputation as being more difficult to get into than the rest of the PR world. As a latecomer to the profession I can’t really offer comment, at least not based on personal experience. But anecdotally, at least, this is what people are telling me.

Following from this, a recurring question is whether a politically astute, ambitious bright young thing should determinedly seek out the holy grail of an entry-level position in Public Affairs, or consider other options with a view to moving into Public Affairs at a later date.

It’s a difficult question, and I’d welcome thoughts and comments. But my gut feeling – and the advice I dispensed in one such conversation earlier this week – is that, if you’re set on consultancy rather than, say, going to work for your MP or any of the other bajillion routes into the world of politics and policy, a bit of experience in the wider world of PR can’t hurt.

Why? Because, day-to-day, the boundaries (such as there are any) between we few, we happy few, we band of Public Affairs specialists, and our comrades elsewere – be they corporate comms practitioners, crisis specialists or whatever – are becoming increasingly blurred. And as such, if I were (hypothetically, before you all send in your CVs) looking for a new team-member, someone who’s had the initiative to develop a broad skills base would certainly not be at a disadvantage.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ve a session with a bunch of overseas students from Syracuse, and a breakfast seminar for PRCA Frontline. I’ll ask them this very question, and see what they think.

We’re all criminals

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:44:37 GMT. 1 comment. Top.

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?

That apostrophe again

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:44:52 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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.

Firefox 2, IE 0

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:46:08 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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!

If it floats your boat …

Last modified on 2008-02-25 19:46:26 GMT. 0 comments. Top.

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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