April 2006 Archives
April 30, 2006
It's been something of a domestic day today, as I prepare a batch of food for Mum to eat in my absence. I've had a lot of succcess with soups, so I had a nice chicken stock simmering away as the sun slowly set down, orange light filtering over the field behind the house.
I never seem to get the time to really cook, and by �really cook� I mean from basic ingredients upwards, so a few hours just pottering around in a good-sized kitchen was bliss.
Slightly more detail than you normally get for a token photo post, I know, but I do like to share�
April 28, 2006
April 27, 2006
My, my. Foreign companies really seem to want to amuse us with their naming right now.
Now, as Chris points out, Nintendo has named its new games console the Wii. That's pronounced �wee�, folks. Clearly, somebody didn't do their culture research. I'm looking forward to the handheld version, the Wee Wii.
In interests of balance, and having linked to a local Labour type just a few days ago, I ought to point out that a Conservative candidate in Catford has a blog:
Needs a bit of work, Tom, but nice to see you starting�
As I sit here in rural retreat, connecting to the world through my iBook, I can't help but be amazed by New Labour's steady transformation into a John Major tribute band.
Shock! John �shagger� Prescott becomes a David Mellor for the 21st Century.
Horror! As inept government ministers are too busy attacking the press to notice the hundreds of convicted serious criminals roaming the streets instead of being deported.
Amazement! As nurses don't buy what's being told to them by the health minister.
My sympathy goes out to any Labour party activists on the ground, trying to drum up support for next week's elections. Their nominal leaders seem to be determined to make their lives very, very hard.
April 26, 2006
Daryl Hannah video blogs - although it's a rather predictable charity effort.
The speed with which videocasting is hitting the national press far eclipses the time it took blogging, or even podcasting. People are catching on to the idea of net-delivered media fast.
I'm becoming a wiki cynic. It think they're great tools within a group of people, but I don't think that they're ever going to be a mass market thing. I'm prepared to be proved wrong, though.
Rejecting a life live in the online public eye
This is really interesting. I've long felt that the simple left/right division in politics was inadequate. The article adds another axis - from authoritarian to liberal - and suddenly everything makes much more sense.
April 25, 2006
The Spectator, that crusty old beast of political magazines, is getting a make-over. And there's one very interesting change:
MediaGuardian.co.uk | Press&publishing | D'Ancona reshuffles Spectator team (registration required, annoyingly):
Van der Post will edit of a new section titled You Earned It, which will chronicle and celebrate the fashions, trends and luxuries of modern life.You Earned It will capitalise on the boom in luxury goods advertising, which is benefiting the Financial Times magazine, How to Spend It.�The Spectator has always been loved for its arts and books coverage and its relish for the good things in life. These new pages will broaden the magazine's appeal to existing and to new readers,� Mr d'Ancona said.
It's fascinating how our current cultural obsession with objects (as opposed to ideas, experiences or relationships) is infecting even the most conservative of journals.
Jane Jacobs, one of the most interesting writers on urban environments, has died, aged 89. She was the author of books such as the Death and Life of Great American Cities and Dark Age Ahead, both of which I recommend highly.
The world is poorer for her passing, but richer for her writing.
There's an interesting post over at Samizdata, which quotes Andrew Norton of the Centre for Independent Studies and Policy magazine as saying that many people on the soft left of politics are more concerned with appearing to be good people through their politics than the consequences of those politics. (I'm paraphrasing here. Quoting a quote from a post whose body is the quote seems to me to be an act that would lead to my post disappearing into a recursive black hole.)
The quote reminded me of the biggest online argument I've ever had, in which my co-arguee eventually stalked off, vowing never to darken my virtual doors again. I forget what caused the argument, but I know what he was doing that annoyed me: he jumped to an assumption about what I believed, and then refused to move from that position, even when I explicitly said �that is not what I believe�. He then had to start accusing me of lying or concealing my true position to justify his continued defence of his original statement.
In a posting some months before, he'd equated politics with morality, suggesting that they were one and the same thing. Now, I believe that humanity's a pretty clever thing (and somewhat lazy), and usually only develops two completely separate words when two separate words are needed, usually for meaning, but sometimes just for tone. I dismissed the idea as bit of juvenile posturing. It was in light of the later argument that I realised the danger in blending the two ideas: it stifles debate. If morality and politics are synonyms, then somebody who takes a different position from you is not just expounding a variant idea, they're wrong - and possibly evil. They must be evil because you're good and they disagree with the politics that are the bedrock of your goodness.
And when your natural reaction is to brand those of different political views to you as evil, you're walking a dangerous path indeed.
One of the great things about blogging is its immediacy. You can respond to events quickly.
That's also one of its problems.
There are many implications to this phenomenon, all of them fascinating and deeply disruptive to U.S. West Cost-centric view of the blogosphere:
Blogging is a global phenomenon - duh! (I can�t even read a lot of the blogs that link to Publishing 2.0)
MSN Spaces is kicking MySpace�s butt in Asia
The cross-linking power of these personal blogs makes those of us writing on �professional� topics look like we�re sitting in a very small room
The technology blogs that dominated the early geekosphere my soon be crowded out of the Technorati Top 100
The provincial U.S. view of 2.0 does little to help us understand the globalization of 2.0
Any, or all, of these may be correct. The only problem is that the evidence rapidly turned out not to be there, after all. Several readers start digging around the blogs listed and find some anomalies, before David Sifry from Technorati points out that there was a problem with the system, creating the odd results.
A few weeks back, I made a throwaway comment about a problem with Lewisham Council's website. Andrew Brown was able to point out that my swipe was outdated, and more power to him for doing so. Or, at least, the same power, as he's standing for re-election�
However, I have another gripe with the council that he won't be able to sweep away so easily. Seven working days ago, I went to the council website to find some contact details for a particular department. I saw that they had both a phone number and an e-mail. By way of experiment, I sent an e-mail. In the fortnight (seven working days, allowing for Easter) since, I have yet to receive a reply, or even an acknowledgement of my e-mail.
If we get to 10 days, I'll be sending off a follow-up. It'll be interested to see if that gets a response�
I'll keep you informed as we go.
Scrapbooking is one of those things people call �crafts�, but which I'm sure are just hobbies wearing a slightly more trendy outfit. It is basically creating photograph albums that contain all sorts of other items, such as other memorabilia collected on the day the photos were taken or decorative material, to create a more aesthetically pleasing album. It's also immensely popular.
In what might be another step for blogging towards the mainstream, Scrapblog brings us a sort of upscale photoblogging. When I have some time I'll play with the site and see what it can do.
Meme floating around the IT-analyst-o-sphere: �bring
your own laptop.� Basically treat the employee's
laptop as you would treat the employees's pants:
require it, pay the employee enough to buy it,
and provide the infrastructure that works with it,
but that's all.
About bloomin' time. I use my personal iBook for work purposes all the time, but IT policies at work prevent me from being able to link in any meaningful way with the work servers while I'm out of the office. The only solution would be to carry two laptops with me, one for work stuff and one for home stuff*.
The sort of approach suggested above would bring businesses' IT policies into line with the realities of life in the early 21st century and would really make life much, much easier.
Another wee silence around here, I'm afraid. Family matters have kept me away from the keyboard, and left me feeling unwilling to write when I have been there.
That said, expect a wealth of posts today, as I have a whole swathe of tabs open in Safari that I want to blog about. I might even get around to the first of those essays.
April 21, 2006
An interesting look into the way blogs may reveal the state of mind of a potential criminal - or betray no differences at all.
April 20, 2006
There's something of a blogging experiment underway at work right now. By far my favourite effort so far is Big Lorry Blog.
Commercial Motor's editor Brian Weatherely just gets what makes blogs entertaining. If you have the slightest interest in big trucks (and, let's face it, who doesn't?) you should be reading. Just look at this: a big truck wedding.
For the next seven days, I'm going to be conducting a little experiment here.
I'm going to write an essay a day, and post it to this blog. Each posts should be at least 500 words long, and may be longer,
I have a number of topics in mind, but am open to suggestions of what people would like to read me writing about. Suggestions gratefully received in the comments.
RAAAAAR! (as an online friend of mine would say) Ignore us at your peril!
April 12, 2006
I might understand this if I read it often enough. 5,000 times might do it.
April 11, 2006
April 9, 2006
April 8, 2006
A lot of this applies to anyone who spends a lot of time at a computer, I suspect
April 6, 2006
Like del.icio.us, but for photos. My visit was slightly spoiled by the foot fetishist who had obviously been hard at work bookmarking his favourite "sources of stimulation".
Interesting comparison of the Friendster and MySpace phenomenonononons. (I really need a spell checker that works in my work PC's browser.)
Positive spin on the recent Scoble/Amazon blogfight
The politicians are getting twitchy
Talking of Lorna, this is a terribly moving and real piece by her boss about his mother's descent into dementia. It's well worth a read:
I remember once asking what had happened to her that day, to be told: �A man came in with a very important moustache.� On another occasion I was trying, without success, to explain something to her. When she finally gave up the attempt she announced: �I must be losing my bonkers!� When I was trying to give her some exercise (how long ago that was) I asked her if she could walk: �I don't think any of me could walk,� came the eloquent response.
April 5, 2006
Preliminary tests have confirmed the H5 avian flu virus in a sample from a swan found dead in Fife, health officials have revealed.
Lorna, with her PhD in immunology, tells me we really shouldn't be sweating this, but I believe in the media, so I have to worry, right?
After all, journalists would never blow things out of proportion, would they?
Ah, good. I've been looking for blogs like this.
Some interesting trends in here