May 2006 Archives
May 31, 2006
A new subcategory has appeared under Travel in the list on the right. Florida is home to a series of posts I made while on holiday in, well, Florida 18 months ago. These lived in another blog, because I didn't want to advertise my absence to London's criminal fraternity, but really deserved a home here, too.
Before I get onto the subject of blogging and journalism, I'd like to look and politics and blogging. Specifically, I'd like to comment a little on no-longer-councillor Andrew Brown.
Andrew has being something of a poster child for blogging politicians. He's been widely quoted in the media, and in political circles, on the topic of blogs and their interaction with the electorate. He used his blog to communicate with the electorate directly, and engaged in conversations with local bloggers (like me).
He then lost his seat at the local elections. So, is political blogging a failed experiment ?
I've finally given in. Since I started this blog back in '03, I have fiercely resisted having a "blogging" category on here. Too many blogs, I reasoned, spent all their time talking about blogging, in some form of self-referential circle-jerk. In 2006, that manifestly isn't true any more. Blogs are being used for every purpose under the sun, from knitting, to gardening, to dirty great trucks.
And, frankly, I want to write about the interaction of blogging and journalism quite a lot in the next few weeks. It's a subject that fascinates me - which is one of the reasons I started blogging in the first place - and it's one that will grow in importance in my life, I suspect.
So, blogging's in the list now. You are officially warned.
An interesting musing on why some high-volume bloggers stop reading blogs.
May 30, 2006
As of today, the new default address for this blog is http://www.onemanandhisblog.com. The old http://www.onemanandhisblog.com address will continue to work just fine, but you'll find yourself routed around to the new address if you click on any internal links on the pages.
I'd be grateful if anyone who has a link to my site on their site would be so kind as to update it. Ta!
May 29, 2006
My efforts to bring this blog in line with the latest Movable Type features (soon to grow in version 3.3) are bearing fruit, but there are still some problems. For one, I can't get Typekey authentication working again (grr). I also need to get the various plug-ins reintegrated with the templates.
But hey, I've got a nice hierarchical category/subcategory menu now!
Word of warning: the site is likely to stay with one of the default templates until the launch of the aforementioned MT 3.3, at which point I'll be introducing a whole new look. How very exciting for you all.
May 27, 2006
If you're reading this blog on the web, you're going to see some odd changes in the next few days.
I'm doing some work on the site's plumbing, and a new design will follow.
For those of you reading via RSS - never mind. Nothing to see here.
May 26, 2006
A former MI6 man blogs his dispute with his old emplyers.
May 25, 2006
Very, very amusing look at the business-orientated stock photography market.
Interesting dicsussion on thos little "Post to..." buttons on the bottom of blog posts.
May 24, 2006
I'm busy watching a rather good programme about the Pet Shop Boys on Channel 4.
The pair always remind me of the 80s and early 90s for a number of reasons. For one, I remember have a really storming argument with my first serious girlfriend about the respective merits of the U2 and Pet Shop Boys versions of Where the Streets Have No Name. I, of course, was on the side of the latter.
The main reason, though, was the absolutely delicious rumour that went around school that they called themselves The Pet Shop Boys due to something unspeakably disgusting and sexual and perverse involving hamsters and bodily orifices. (It's amazing how much in the 80s involved small mammals in inappropriate places. Remember Freddie Starr?)
Of course, when I grew up a little, I really started enjoying their music, but those playground concepts linger�
The sad thing is that, should such a rumour be circulated about a current celebrity, I'm sure no-one would blink an eyelid. Boy bands? They perform worse acts before breakfast. Or, indeed, during breakfast. Or even with their breakfast. That's the problem with a celebrity- and hedonism-obsessed media. It takes all the sheer dirtiness out of rumours. How dull is that?
Another threat to tradition publishing revenue models
Big "whoops" from Microsoft: months and months ater Apple built great podcasting support into iTunes (On Windows as well as Mac) and the iPod Microsoft's latest media play fails to support podcasting. Dumb.
May 23, 2006
An interesting site promoting feeds as a marketing tool.
Another blogger fired for blogging (or so it seems)
Warren Buffett says newspapers are in permanent decline, and he's got a good record of predicting these things. Also, my mother-in-law has met him.
May 22, 2006
Here is one of the things that's keeping me sane right now. It's a little dock unit which plugs into my car's cigarette lighter (pretty much unused until now), providing a useful dock and charger for an iPod on the move. The cassette adaptor plugs into the unit, meaning that it's pulling its signal from the digital output on the base of the iPod rather than the headphone socket at the top, leading to better sound.
I'm spending a lot of time on the roads between London, Suffolk and Norfolk right now, and it's lovely to escape the tyranny of the radio programmers.
I also like the unexpected appearance of my hand (complete with wedding ring) in this pic.
This is what Brian would call a quota post.
It's been a long day.
May 21, 2006
May 20, 2006
May 19, 2006
Busy dealing with family issues. Should be back posting over the weekend.
May 18, 2006
Allows readers to filter RSS feeds by content. Very interesting.
May 16, 2006
This week, from yesterday, the15th, through to 21st May, is Malaria Awareness Week.
Why should you care? Well, let me quote a colleague, Piers, who was directly affected by it:
Most people in the UK think of malaria as a tropical disease that has little relevance to them.
Because of this most travellers going abroad do not check if the area they are going to is a malarial hotspot. Of those that do, most refuse, or forget, to take their medication.
My sister, Mattie, was one of those who forgot. Earlier this year she contracted a particularly unpleasant strain called cerebral malaria, which attacks the brain and central nervous system. It went unnoticed, and her GP assumed that she had flu. A week later, in the early hours of the morning of the 26th January, she died. All it took was one mosquito, one bite. She was 19 years old.
Many people, like Mattie, forget to take their pills. Others say that they are worried about the side effects of some Larium-based anti-malarial drugs, such as mefloquine. The fact is that only a handful of people experience any side effects, while just one mosquito bite can be fatal.
We need to raise awareness. Here is a comparison: So far 115 people have died from avian flu, and yet it dominates our newspapers, news programmes and our awareness. Each year over 1.5million people die of malaria, and despite this few people are aware of the dangers.
There is no need for people to die from malaria. It is preventable and treatable and yet it remains one of the major causes of death worldwide.
If you are going on holiday, or if anyone you know is going abroad, do check whether the area is a malarial hotspot. And if you are advised to take medication, follow that advice.
It is within our power to stop this vicious killer.
Please spread the word, raise awareness and take the pills.
And most of all, head to http://www.malariahotspots.co.uk/output/page1.asp before you fly.
Thames Water has been urged to apply for a drought order to try to curb London's water use.
The Environment Agency's call for "immediate" action comes a day after an order was granted in England and Wales for the first time in 11 years.
I don't know about you, but I'm starting to feel a tad thirsty.
This man is a god - the God of Common Sense
Thank you, God
Nice piece about the rituals of celebration and worship
A spanish town publishes its own phone book, with residents listed by their nicknames. Imagine that - a community where everyone knows everybody, and all give each other nicknames. Can't see that happeneing in many parts of the UK any more.
May 15, 2006
Using blogs to stimulate debate? Check.
Using professional writers to do it? Check.
Oh, this is an idea I can really get behind. I hope the experiment goes well.
England's water crisis deepens (or should that be "gets shallower"):
A drought order has been granted in England and Wales for the first time since 1995, banning the non-essential use of water.
Under the six-month order, Sutton and East Surrey Water can ban car washing, the filling of swimming pools and watering of parks and sports grounds.
I find it absolutely amazing that in a wet, temperate country we struggle so badly to supple water to our homes. But then, perhaps that's the problem? We're far too complacent about the issue, so when extreme conditions hit, our inadequate, lazy, leaking pipes dry up and leave us to suffer.
If London ends up with standpipes during the summer, I'm decamping to Suffolk for the duration.
(Bonus Fact: the heatwave and drought of 1976 saw me appear in the press for the first time, in a local Manchester paper. I was in a paddling pool, along with my little brother and my mother. Mum was in a bikini, of course, which one might suspect was the main point of the shot.)
My weekend was, in theory, going to be a time of R&R. I was on my own for the first time in ages, with Dr. T off with her mother in Bristol, and my sister-in-law Jo doing Mum duties in Suffolk. I could put my feet up, relax and enjoy myself a little. It was time to watch some movies, play some computer games, potter around with my video and photos and mix it up with some light blogging. In the end, I did none of those things.
Instead, I found myself dusting, organising, cleaning hovering and vacuuming. Why? Because I found myself unable to chill out when I had so many "needs doing" jobs staring me in the face. The jobs were insistently there, They lurked on the edge of my conciousness annoying me. In the end, I gave up trying to chill, and attacked them with some passion. And, much to my surprise, I rather enjoyed it.
Perhaps I'm finally hitting that stage of adulthood where you do the household chores because you want to, and you like the results, rather than through a mixture of guilt and obligation. This will all be good news for Dr. T, I suspect, who has been waiting for signs of growing up since we got married...
Which is all a rather long-winded way of saying "sorry for the lack of posts recently".
May 14, 2006
Fun bit of video journalism from E3, the big US games show. It's this sort of entertaining material that will be a growing threat to conventional media, I suspect.
A nice and amusing take on "Dave" Cameron's A List for potential new Tory MPs.
May 10, 2006
More bad news for the dead tree part of the industry
And another dead tree publisher looking for online revenue streams
May 9, 2006
Blogging seems to have hit the built environment in a big way in recent months. I've just had to reorganize my "Built Environment" category in my RSS feed reader into a number of sub-categories, because the list of worthwhile blogs was getting unwieldy.
Is this going to have an impact on my day job? Time will tell.
May 8, 2006
This is just a quick test post from the newly-released ecto 2 for Windows, my preferred posting client.
Hopefully, it's working.
May 5, 2006
In what looks like a very clever piece of misdirection, the cabinet reshuffle seems to have distracted most of the media's attention from the fact that the number of Labour councilor losses appears to have crept over 300 as the final councils declare.
That's the level most pundits were positing as "total shambles" rather than "bad night".
I�ve often interviewed resigning ministers, but this was amongst the bizarrest. When I was called to be told the news, I was naked in bed in a Westminster hotel hoping to get at least an hour�s sleep, having stayed up all night covering the local elections. The interesting discovery I�ve made is that you can go from being in bed to attending a resignation statement in exactly seven minutes.
Mind you, not sure I needed the nudity image.
Well, Tony's trying to put some spit and polish on his party by sacking everyone who has had a bad few months and replacing them in the cabinet. Clarke's out. Prescott is politically emasculated, with much of his workload heading to Ruth Kelly's desk.
In the offices, we're all watching to see what becomes of the Office of the
Dirty Porking Monster Deputy Prime Minister, as that carries the property-related brief. How much of it will Kelly get? What about Millibland? Personally, I'm just enjoying seeing some dynamism creeping back into our politics. Labour has lost its assured position, the Cameron-lead Tories are looking resurgent at long last, and
the horror of the LibDem leadership election doesn't seem to have seriously damaged the party.
We could be in for a much more interesting few years.
Who expected that? After more than three decades at the top of the Lewisham political tree, Labour is left scrubbing around for support with the rest of the parties, as the borough enters a period of no overall control. Big gains for the LibDems across the borough, I note, with Andrew Milton back in for Lewisham Central and, in an upsetting, Labour's Andrew Brown losing his contest with them in Blackheath. The Greens now control Ladywell, and even the Tories gained a seat.
You can find all the results here.
It is a new era in Lewisham politics and it'll be interesting to watch the parties negotiating with each other to actually get anything done. Most interesting of all will be watching Steve Bullock, who returned comfortably as mayor. I bet he'll be looking forward to his next council meeting a lot less than he has previous ones.
Oh, and will the new set-up be enough to save Ladywell Pool?
May 4, 2006
May 3, 2006
One of the local independent candidates for the Lewisham mayor took the cheap and cheerful approach to advertising his candidacy. Spotted this morning, on my way to Lewisham Station.
May 2, 2006
I'm back in the office today, after a week working remotely.
Much as I enjoy working from home, or other locations, I am glad to be back in EG's Procter Street hub. Working from home is an excellent way of concentrating on particualr tasks, getting copy edited and sent to the sub-editing desks and clearing e-mail.
But the social buzz of the office is still the best way of generating ideas. If we do, as a culture, shift towards a more mobile working paradigim, then our office spaces are going to have to develop to reflect their primarily social role.
Finally, I have been contacted by one of the politcal parties about this week's local elections.
The prize goes to the Lewisham LibDems, who were the first to push a leaflet through my door. And, to date, they remain the only party to have made any direct contact with me.
Everyone whines about voter apathy, but if the political parties can't be bothered to canvass their electorate, why should people bother to vote?
Well, I have broadband at home again. It turns out that BT have, over the years, changed the way you need to set up your modem to connect to their broadband service. And they never told their old users about this.
So, suddenly, over the weekend the old scheme stopped working and we lost broadband access, which drove Lorna up the wall while I was away. Support was able to tell me what to do and, after an hour's hunting for the modem configuration instructions ("Can't you just download them?" aked Lorna. Uuuuh, no...), I got everything up an running.
It's quite an achievement from BT, though. This an issue designed to irritate its most loyal customers. Very clever, that.
May 1, 2006
Entries are likely to be thing on the ground today, as BT have managed to kill my broadband while I've been away.
Thanks, BT. Nice going.