December 2004 Archives
December 24, 2004
I can tell it's Christmas Eve. Between my MSN Messenger and iChat, there are a grand total of three contacts online.
December 23, 2004
December 22, 2004
December 21, 2004
I've just upgraded the site to Movable Type 3.14. Please let me know if you find any problems by e-mailing me at adamDOTtinworthATgmailDOTcom.
December 19, 2004
Gratuitous link, because this is the most wonderfully entertaining blog entry I've read in months:
I must send the link to my sister-in-law, who is the sort of person who inflicts these arbitrary packaging changes on the world.
December 18, 2004
Another slightly elderly link (I've been playing catch-up after a hectic week back at the mag):
St Andrews union bans student newspaper | Samizdata.net:
The Saint, the award-winning tabloid student newspaper at the University of St Andrews, has been banned by the student union. Though this will not stop the paper circulating among students, The Saint will no longer be on sale in the union shop and, more seriously, the paper is being thrown out of its editorial office on the top floor of the union building. The argument used for the ban is that the paper does not respect the dignity of all students.
Once more the difficult relationship between student newspapers and student unions rears its ugly head. Student rags are curious beasts: many of them are funded by the student union, but are theoretically independent of them. Worse, they have to report on the very body that funds them. As student politicians have a tendency to believe themselves to be right with a fervor that only prime ministers in their third term in office can normally match, conflict is often inevitable. It was in this arena that I encountered my first blatant attempt at censorship.
I started my journalistic career on student mags, initially on Imperial College, London's Felix and later on Queen Mary College's Cub after I switched both college and degree. It was only once I'd finished my two years as magazine editor and embarked on a year as a sabbatical welfare officer that this union/magazine conflict came to a head.
The final issue of the year carried a couple of news stories critical of the union sabbaticals. My fellow sabbaticals got wind of this, and intercepted the magazine at the printer. They stripped out the two negative stories and then replaced them with two puff pieces for union activities. Of course, the writing style, typeface and design ethos didn't match with the rest of the news spread, but they seemed content with their work, and left the issue rolling off the presses.
The printers, bless their hearts, phoned me and warned me that this had happened. I got hold of the Cub editor of the time, Ruth Addicott (who has worked for Press Gazette and The Argus) and her deputy Paul Clements (who has gone on to edit the Pink Paper and work on High Life), rushed to the printers and collected the printed copies of the magazine. We took them back to my flat, printed out an A5 sheet with the missing stories and an explanation of what had happened, and hand collated copies into the magazines late into the evening. We then distributed the magazines as normal and sat back to watch the union president and vice-president seething as news of their duplicity spread like wildfire across the campus.
The incident was one of those moments when the idea of journalism really gelled in my mind. People will go to great lengths to silence criticism of themselves. This was a clumsy amateurish attempt by two students. How much more sophisticated are attempts by people who have held power for years? If you wander why so much journalism tends towards the cynical, well, this is one good reason why.
But it's bloody good fun thwarting such people, I can tell you.
I found this a little late. Those canny people over at the Big Blog Company are running some seminars about blogging for journalists.
the Big Blog Company | Blogging boot camps for journalists:
It seemed a good idea to us to gather a few journalists who may want to learn about blogs and show them how they work and why perhaps they should care. As things move fast in the blogosphere, we would like to do a few practical hour-long blogging sessions before Christmas, starting Friday 17th, then Monday 20th December and Tuesday 21st December.
The lack of awareness of blogging in my profession continues to amaze me. Of the 30 or so journalists employed by EG, I'm the only one with a blog that I'm aware of, and only a handful of my colleagues seem to be even aware of their existence. This is from a magazine that was one of the first to have a comprehensive, profitable online service.
At the very least, understanding a new publishing outlet would seem like a good idea for all journalists. That's certainly one of the reasons I started blogging.
Ecto has been my blogging software of choice for a little while now. While it lacks the superb user interface of, say, Xjournal, it's certainly my favored way of getting copy onto this blog. Part of that is its excellent picture handling options. As a blogger that like photos, that's a great boon.
However, I can also empathize with some of the complaints about it.
The new Mac version of this once excellent blog posting program is much more complicated now and much more time consuming to use. By offering too many formatting options it adds several steps to what used to be a blazingly fast and simple tool.
I think that misses the point a little. It's not adding new features per se that causes the problem - it's that the UI of the applications needs a serious revamp to make it all seem much more intuitive. Let's hope that it's on the way.
December 14, 2004
December 13, 2004
Is it me, or are the Christmas lights in Lewisham town centre a little more classy than usual this year?
London is darn cold today. Of course, the fact that I only arrived back from a fortnight in Florida a couple of days ago might explain why I'm feeling it so acutely. (That's right - I've been away for over a fortnight. That's why there's been a paucity of posts of late. Things should return to normal from tomorrow.)
The raw temperature isn't the only thing about the city that's cold, though. Two weeks away have made me forget how rude Londoners are. I bought some food in the M&S in Cannon Street station this evening and the assistant gave me the scripted "How are you today?" I made the mistake of actually answering that, and then asking how she was. It's understandable, I think. In Fort Lauderdale, they actually listen to your answers and reply to your questions. Here, they look at you as if you are mad, and then get on with doing their job in an automaton-like fashion.
Maybe I've just been spoiled by the famous Southern hospitality. Maybe the cold was getting to everyone. Or maybe Britain's reputation for politeness is long gone, replaced by a surly jobsworth attitude that slowly sours every day in this city.
December 4, 2004
So, we went to the Everglades today, and I had a photographic orgy with my new digital SLR. The results are below.
No more words are needed. Just enjoy the pictures.
December 3, 2004
In the "I'll believe it when I see it" category is this:
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | UK to invest long-term in science:
Chancellor Gordon Brown has announced a long-term plan of investment in science education and hi-tech industry in his pre-budget report.
Mr Brown said that in order to succeed in the global economy, Britain needed to build on its "scientific genius".
I've seen the salaries offered to our PhD graduates. It's pathetic. Why bother educating more scientists, if the only decent salaries are working for multi-national conglomerates? That's hardly going to help build Britain's "scientific genius".
Now, I don't particularly like George Galloway or his politics, but I am glad to see another indictment of shoddy, politically motivated journalism handed down:
Just as the Mirror so wanted to believe that the faked photos were true that it didn't check them properly, so too the Telegraph put political prejudice before proper research. Now both the right and the left have had their hands slapped over this, maybe we can start moving back to more responsible reporting.
December 2, 2004
I hear much talk about the obesity problem in the US and what can be done about it. If nothing else, the reasons are obvious:
- Huge food portions
- Driving everywhere
We've done what we can to work around the first problem. We'll buy a single sub between two or three of us, for example, and only have one course for dinner. The latter is so much more difficult to deal with. Mum and I tried to hop from a mall to the Borders next door on foot, and nearly died in the attempt. Driving in Fort Lauderdale is a real pleasure, and I'll write more about that later, but the same superb road design that makes it fun makes walking all but impossible.
25 lengths of the pool a day for me, minimum.