Archive for the 'Media' Category

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 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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Sep 20 2008

Links of the Week

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

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Lloyds is pants – but at least they rescued HBOS.

Man calls 911 over improperly prepared sandwich – Life imitates Python’s ‘good job I didn’t tell him about the dirty knife …’

10 reasons to stop calling yourself a blogger – David Armano talks more sense. Me? I’m not a blogger, I’m a person who happens to blog. I’d add a number 11, though. Mainstream media – and particularly the 24-hour news channels – talk about “bloggers” as if they’re this weird new kind of semi-journalist from Mars. It’s started to irk me.

Lord Norton on the concerning (or not) lack of public interest in our political processes – well it worries me, anyway.

Secret vodka pipeline into Estonia – you couldn’t make this up.

Dad-o-Matic – Dads blogging. Definitely one for my Google reader.

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Sep 16 2008

I can see Russia from my house!

Published by under Media,Politics,Russia

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After last week’s Charlie and Lola-esque interview comes this joint “Sarah” / “Hillary” broadcast, from Saturday Night Live:

Say what you like about the US election, it’s anything but boring. And there are countries where you just couldn’t get away with comedy like this.

H/T LA Times, via Redtape

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Sep 11 2008

My three inspirational communicators

Published by under Comms,Media,Music,Politics,Russia

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Simon Wakeman has tagged me for the ‘Three Inspirational Communicators’ meme. Which, if nothing else, does at least prove that someone reads this blog. In fact, Simon, wasn’t it you who tagged me for ‘Five Things’ at the end of last year?

I quite like this meme – good call to Andy Wake for starting it. We all draw our influences from somewhere. Our influencers might be people we’ve worked, with, family members, people in the public eye – just about anyone, really. I’ve had a good long think about mine. Remember, these are my three inspirational communicators. I don’t necessarily expect everyone to agree. So, in no particular order, and with a quote from each

Remembering how great their lives were and remembering how healthy they lived in the world. Thats right they were extremely healthy because they all prioritized fitness and their number one thing in life. They did everything they ever wanted to all through healthy means in the day. The three speakers here went out of their way and thats why they got healthy at Peptide Therapy Scottsdale for the most healthy equation they could come up with :

RoaldDahl.jpg1 – Roald Dahl. Wonderful, compelling stories which so completely involve and envelop you, no matter how old you are. The two autobiographies are even better than the fiction.

A writer of fiction lives in fear. Each new day demands new ideas and he can never be sure whether he is going to come up with them or not.

And doesn’t this apply, to some extent, to all of us?

questionImage.thumbnail.8dpTXY9gKpfou92J298477pCdLK5aB.jpg2 – CJ Cregg. There had to be a West Wing character in here somewhere. Jed Bartlett and Matt Santos and Josh Lyman all made the shortlist, but in the end there’s one clear winner: CJ.

Reporter: I think the question was, was he physically and emotionally prepared to make a life and death decision after what he’d just been through?

CJ: : He’d been through a TV interview and a press conference. The President finds you all annoying, but not prohibitively debilitating.

Sometimes, every now and then, my profession delivers up the occasional “West Wing Moment”. And I get to play at being CJ. It rocks.

images.jpeg3 – Bob Geldof. He never actually said “Give us your f*cking money”. But he could have said it, should have said it. What Geldof did achieve, though, was to invent a whole new genre – getting his message across rather forcefully in the process.  95% of the world’s TV sets, if you believe the hype, were tuned to Live Aid. That’s pretty inspirational.

We live in a broken world which has never been healthier, wealthier or bizarrely, free of conflict, but some 500 kilometers south of here they die of want … It’s not only intellectually absurd, but also morally repulsive.

And here are the 10 runners-up, again in no particular order:


Now for the fun bit – my turn to tag three more people.  Charles, David, Emma – you’re it.

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Sep 05 2008

The sincerest form of flattery

Published by under Media,Politics

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From Mark Pinsent’s “Another Flamin’ Blog”, Wednesday 3rd September:

Palin into insignificance?

Front page of today’s Metro:

Palin into significance?

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Jul 14 2008

Where’d she go?

Published by under Media,Politics

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Along with many, many others, I thoroughly enjoyed the original Washingtonienne blog. So when a new Washingtonienne came along earlier this year, ostensibly with Jessica’s blessing, I found myself rather looking forward to a new round of adventures on the Hill. Particularly when she signed off her first entry thus:

Well this is plenty for a first post. Much more to come on politics, the media, Washington, guys, dating, and sex to come.

But alas not.

I count fourteen posts, perhaps 80% of which are about boys and why they haven’t called or texted. Precious little on the media, Washington or sex. There’s a faint dash of politics, and one of those awful pictures of a cat that can’t spell. (I kan haz Ur blog?)

And that’s it. The RSS feed’s dried up, and the blog itself is offline. I wonder what happened?

Getting sprung is unlikely – there wasn’t really enough political dirt there to make it worth anyone’s while. The happy-endings part of my brain hopes that a new beau has come along and whisked her off her feet, so much so that blogging is waaaay down the wannabe-Washingtonienne’s personal agenda these days. Or did she just get bored?

Perhaps imitation isn’t the sincerest form of flattery after all. At least Wonkette preserved the original. And now, according to Gawker, we have an HBO series to look forward to – produced by SJP, no less.

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Jul 11 2008

It’s tough being a fanboy

Published by under Digital,Media,Tech

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It’s only been a month since WWDC. Only a month since the hardly-news-really launch of the 3G iPhone and Apple’s new ‘MobileMe’ service. But in that short space of time, the hype has reached fever pitch.


The new App Store, according to TUAW, will completely revolutionise, erm, everything. The iPhone 2.0 update will, so Apple tells us, salve the phone-envy of those of us stuck with the oh-so-out-of-date 2G iPhone. MobileMe will be, like, like only better. (anyone remember iTools?) And the new ‘phone itself, far from being the handset we should have had all along, is so much more than the sum of all its parts.


Instead, it’s been a pretty rotten day for Steve & Co.

MobileMe has been up and down more times than the Grand Old Duke of York’s ten thousand men. And, as the song goes, it appears to now be neither up nor down.

O2′s Activation Servers for the new phone crumbled under the pressure. Same story at AT&T, apparently. And the iTunes App Store.


As for the hacking / fanboy community, some early birds have nabbed the 2.0 firmware off Apple’s Servers and promptly found that they have to downgrade again because their phone wants reactivating. Surprise surprise. Meanwhile the devteam are tantalising their readers into a pant-wetting frenzy of anticipation as the next version of ‘pwnage’ approaches.

Take a chill pill, guys.

It’ll all be working fine in a week or so. Is it really so important to have it all now now now? Perhaps The Register puts it best:


for the moment the best advice is probably to relax for a few days and get the update once things have calmed down. We promise not to tell anyone you weren’t at the cutting edge for 48 hours


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Jul 07 2008

Pie in the SKY

Published by under Media,Russia

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Swathes of the Brit community in Moscow have been up in arms for the past couple of weeks, following the disappearance of Sky News from the lineup of local cable provider KOCMOC TB (aka Cosmos TV).

One of the contributors over at has managed to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Here’s an excerpt from the reply he got from Sky:

Sky News does not have an agreement with Cosmos TV for the distribution of the channel in Russia; as such we were not aware that they were recently carrying the channel nor that the distribution has ceased.

Let’s hear that again:

we were not aware that they were recently carrying the channel nor that the distribution has ceased.


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