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Sunday, 31 July 2005

Blogher Blogging 101

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The Blogher conference took place in Santa Clara during the weekend and immediately achieved global reach. This conference about blogs and networking was run by and presented by women.
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From a great set of photos by jdlasica, here is conference organizer Lisa Stone with fashion model Anina. A good summary of the conference appears in Fresnofamous. The same post features simple, useful advice about setting tags in blogs(see, I've started!). The topics in the conference are a great source of information and ranged from the rudiments of creating and operating a blog as reported by Barbie2be through to advanced topics such as video blogs. The main website is still being updated with information that is useful to all of us trying to make sense of the increasingly connected world.

As Halley Suitt explained, its quite alright to ask someone to feature your site or posts on their sites. Just ask. Three times if necessary.

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Saturday, 30 July 2005

Martian Airport Extreme


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Saturday we replugged some connections and liberated an amplifier, some speakers and some other audio visual equipment. We also brought some extra disk storage on stream which we've named Mars, Phobos and Deimos.
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And as if thats not enough space references, check out the Google Moon. Dont forget to try maximum zoom.

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Friday, 29 July 2005

Kokoro dreams

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Recent BBC reporting of the Repliee Q1 robot illustrates the gap in new reporting between blogspace and media on some topics.
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The original Repliee was announced back in 2003 and reported by I4U, amongst others. The designers kokoro-dreams created her and showcased her at the world expo in Aichi, Japan.

The new robot is a step forward in presentation and can flutter her eyelids and move her hands like a human, even appearing to breathe. Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University says one day robots could fool us into believing they are human. He describes the phenomenon where people realise she is a robot and then a few seconds later start to interact with her again as if she is a woman.

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Thursday, 28 July 2005

Windows Vista

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Microsoft's Longhorn has its release name of Vista. Microsoft has despatched early copies for testing. It is described by Microsoft as providing a personal vista, whether that is trying to organize photos, find a file, to connect or to collaborate with a number of people electronically.

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Some user features include window transparency and rescaling and user prompts in menus.

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With the emergence of Apple's Tiger as a strong lifestyle based environment, maybe Microsoft feel theres some competition emerging for their product?

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There is speculation of a polished version of Vista to be released late in 2006.

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Wednesday, 27 July 2005

Stephanie Klein

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Stephanie Klein's blog started out as a wau to get space in her life and to tell her friends what was happening. This post describes her thought processes about getting started.
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The blog reflects Stephanie's return to single life in New York. She has also bagged a book deal for "Straight up and Dirty" to be published in 2006 and that is based upon similar stories and observations. Stephanie is regarded as the Carrie Bradshaw of New York bloggers. According to Technorati, her Greek Tragedy blog ranks in the top 1% of all blogs, giving her instant name and face recognition in the New York area.

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Tuesday, 26 July 2005

Discovering Space

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Today saw the take-off of Space Shuttle Discovery from Cape Canaveral, in Florida. The 13-day mission will be a busy one for the crew. As the shuttle approaches the International Space Station, it will be examined closely by the station crew of Sergei K. Krikalev, the Russian commander, and John L. Phillips, the American flight engineer, in a new and somewhat risky manouvre.

Discovery is carrying tons of supplies that will have to be transferred from the shuttle to the station; two and a half years worth of broken equipment and trash will be carried back in the shuttle's payload bay.

About 600 feet from the station, Colonel Collins will stop the shuttle and execute a tricky spin that rotates the 100-ton orbiter nose up 360 degrees. While the bottom of the orbiter is facing the station, the station crew will take detailed pictures. Afterwards, the shuttle will dock with the station, on the third day of the mission.

Hybrid maps

Google Maps now has a hybrid style which overlays satellite images with street map data. The two systems (street maps and satellite images) match up now, too, whereas on the last version they still looked different.

Here's my area in UK.

Sunday, 24 July 2005

Blurry Sunday

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Morning cutting PAL DVDs from Mel's assignment. Afternoon finding battle-cruisers for Ian; Early evening in Ciao Baby Cucina then picking up Mel from the train station. All a bit of a blur.

Saturday, 23 July 2005

Just read - Russian Disco

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RUSSIAN DISCO
By Wladimir Kaminer

This book is about Russian immigrant Kaminer describing post-wall Berlin in short, interconnected understated vignettes of life. A German learns Russian from a children's radio show and calls everybody "my little friend" and gets arrested for murder when he visits Moscow for the first time; advice on how to deal with curses and hire a witch and something of the Russian disco run in a bar by the author. Kaminer has now achieved international celebrity status and travels all over Europe playing his unique brand of kitschy pop. Other Russendiskos have sprung up all over the country.

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Kaminer freely admit that the Russendisko would be a flop in the highly charged fashion factories of Moscow's clubs, where young oligarchs go to show off their Armani suits, their model girlfriends and their big wads of cash. "Even the Russians here are shocked at the mixes we make, and the Germans have mostly never heard any of this music before," says Kaminer. "In the meantime, the Russian community in Berlin have their own discos. They like lots of gold and velvet. We don't conform to their tastes. Part of the attraction of the Russendisko is that it is a disco without any context."

Kaminer has four other books; this is the only one translated to English.

Friday, 22 July 2005

High Speed Harry

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The Muggle Prime Minister tries to work out why everything is in turmoil. A bridge collapses and murders occur until the new Minister of Magic explains it is a war of the wizards vs the Death Eaters who are acting on the orders of Voldemort. The sister witches, Narcissa and Bellatrix visit Snape, who says he's been spying for Voldemort for years. Narcissa's son, Draco Malfoy has been chosen for a dangerous assignment by Voldemort; and Snape says he will keep an eye on Draco.

Dumbledore visits the Dursleys to take Harry to spend his holiday with the Weasleys and tells Harry that Sirius had willed all his posessions to Harry. Returning to school Harry is hailed as the “Chosen One” - partly because of what he did in the last book and also because he wants to have a go at beating the Death Eaters. Harry starts to think that Draco is a Death Eater. Harry discovers his own spell book includes cheats and starts to use them. The book is signed "Property of the Half-Blood Prince."

Dumbledore coaches Harry about Voldemort, including looking into peoples' memories where he sees Merope and Morfin, the last living descendants of Slytherin. The two of them are both violent and mad from inbreeding designed to make them “purebloods". Merope had a Muggle child named Tom Riddle, who ultimately joins Hogwarts and becomes Voldemort ( and is therefore a half-Muggle).

Ron and Hermione become attracted to one another and Harry takes a shine to Ginny Weasley (they eventually kiss after a Quidditch match).

Harry finds out that Snape and Draco are plotting. Harry sees in the past that the 16 year old Voldemort had stolen uncle Morfin's wand, killed his father and then set up Morfin to take the blame. Later, Voldemort left Hogwarts and disappeared for ten years when he learnt the black arts and formed the Death Eaters.

Harry finds out that a concealed part of one's soul - a Horcrux - can be hidden in an object. Dumbledore thinks Voldemort had six Horcruxes, of which four remain and which keep his non human soul alive.

Harry repeatedly tries to convince Dumbledore that Snape is a follower of Voldemort before they try to destroy one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes, which they think is hidden in a deserted and spell laden cave. The Horcrux seems to be in a potion on an island in a lake filled with zombies called Inferi. To destroy the Horcrux, Dumbledore drinks the potion and almost dies but survives to fight the Inferi.

But the Death Eaters have infiltrated Hogwarts and demand that Draco kill Dumbledore. Draco is terrified, but refuses. Snape appears and Dumbledore seeks his help but instead Snape kills Dumbledore with a spell. Harry sees this but is invisible in his cloak. He then chases Draco and Snape but they escape. The potion which Dumbledore drank was not the Horcrux - which had been stolen - and Harry discovers that Snape was the Half-Blood Prince.

There is a big and dramatic funeral for Dumbledore with mer-people and centaurs of the forest. Professor McGonagall takes over as headmistress but announces that Hogwarts may have to close becauseof the danger. Harry decides to track down Voldemart and to travel light...

Thursday, 21 July 2005

More London bombs

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What a difference a day makes. Rucksack-based acetone peroxide bombs with small detonators in Central London on three trains and a bus, two weeks after the first wave. There are reports of one person wounded, although ambulance services said they did not transport anyone from the scenes.

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Tony Blair said while the near-simultaneous attacks had echoes of the ones two weeks ago that killed 52 people and the four bombers - also on three Tube trains and a bus - it was too early to say whether they bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda.

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The police chief confirmed there were four scenes - at Oval, Warren Street and Shepherd's Bush Underground stations and on a bus in east London - where "attempts have been made to set off explosive devices."

Wednesday, 20 July 2005

London Tourists and Workers

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Spent today in London, mainly around Whitehall. I wondered whether there would be a discernable decrease in the number of people, but the area around Parliament and Trafalgar Square was seething. Normal workers and many tourists, giving a lie to the thought that there would have been a major impact to London's flux of people after the recent tragic events.
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And there was a typical sprinkling of protesters around Parliament - including, today, one for the Parliamentary cleaners, who are on strike for better pay. In the hot sunshine, the Capital seemed to have returned to its normal hectic, eclectic mix of action.

Tuesday, 19 July 2005

Final Cut Crush

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So we have crunched eight hours of video down to 1 hour and 40 minutes. Now is the part where we add the angle shots and the titles, before adding chapter markers and cutting to DVD. Doing the whole process on a laptop is qiote a change from the hardware assisted Wintel boxes of a year ago. Remarkably, the whole environment is also very stable, wiothout lots of strange crashes and interminable rendering times.

At this rate, we should have a copy available to send to David on Friday, which was what Melanie had estimated. Tomorrow, I'm in London and Melanie will be counting frames.

Monday, 18 July 2005

Joy of Tech Coffee Widget

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Got Tiger? Here's a simple widget to give you a cartoon choice, each day.

Sunday, 17 July 2005

ICE - In Case of Emergency

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In view of the recent events in London, NHS East Anglian Ambulance Service have launched a national "In Case of Emergency (ICE)" campaign in association with Vodafone's annual life savers award.

The simple idea is that you store the word "ICE" in your mobile phone address book, and against it enter the number of the person you would want to be contacted "In Case of Emergency".

In an emergency situation, relevant personnel will be able to quickly find out who your next of kin are and be able to contact them. It's as simple as that, and for more than one contact name you can use ICE1, ICE2, ICE3 etc. There's more info on the ICE website.

Saturday, 16 July 2005

Harry Potter

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It was interesting walking into our local Tescos on Friday evening, to see an empty display rack for this book, due out on Saturday.
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And then to walk in again on Saturday evening to see the same empty display rack. In the gap between, the books had arrived and then departed. Almost a Harry Potter storyline.

Outdoor Studio

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Spent part of today hacking through eight hours of video created by John and Melanie, on a Powerbook connected to a LaCie drive, in the garden. Try doing that with Windows!

Trinity Test

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July 16th was the date of the Trinity test. First Nuclear Bomb. Nothing was ever the same.

Thursday, 14 July 2005

Moment of Silence

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Londoners and tourists visiting the British capital have made a point of going about their business and leisure as normal - or as near normal as possible, following last Thursday's devastating terrorist attacks, which killed at least 53 people and injured around 700.

Today, a week after the attacks, there was a two minute silence throughout London and the rest of the UK and many parts of Europe. With many others, we went outside to take the two minutes of silence on the hot London streets at midday.

Tuesday, 12 July 2005

Electronic Freedom

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been around in the internet for many years and argues - amongst many things- on behalf of bloggers, publishing useful advice about rights, privileges, and protections.

Bloggers are entitled to free speech - The EFF works to shield from frivolous or abusive threats and lawsuits. Internet bullies shouldn't use copyright, libel, or other claims to chill legitimate speech.

Bloggers have the right to political speech - The EFF works with public interest organizations to ensure that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) doesn't gag bloggers' election related speech. Bloggers also have the right to stay anonymous - including providing a guide to help with strategies for keeping identity private.

Sunday, 10 July 2005

William appears

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Julie had managed to get seats in row 3, which was around two metres from the stage. In addition to a strong set from mainly the second album and the recent arena tout, Will Young sang three new songs, which will no doubt already be available as mp3 captures from the many cellular phones in the concert.

Mara Carlyle

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Enjoyable, talented and slightly quirky singer. First album called 'The Lovely'. Mara disarmingly handles sensuous glissandos and leaps into a heartstopping upper register with deliciously buttery phrasing. She makes it all seem casual. Her folk singer style covers many genres augmented with ukelele and saw(!) amongst the instruments.

Lazin' on a Sunday afternoon

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In the summertime when the weather is high
You can stretch right up and touch the sky
When the weather is fine
We go fishing or go swimming in the sea
We're always happy
Life's for living, yeah, that's our philosophy

Leeds castle. Hazy evening.

Saturday, 9 July 2005

Kentish Idyll

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Twisting country lanes, mainly single track, to a relaxed house in the country.

Friday, 8 July 2005

Terror in London

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Living as a Londoner, most of my life has included the awareness of our capital city as a target for terrorist attacks. The most sustained period was when the IRA sent bombs to major areas of our city as their violent protest about Northern Ireland.

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The current attacks unleashed in Central London, using a bus and tube trains are from another source. Although arguably claimed by al-Qaeda, these attacks don't give warning and don't give an explanation.
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So using the most commonplace symbols of London life - the red bus and tube, we now have an unknown killer in our streets.

Union Jack

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The Union Jack is reflected in raindrops on a car window from the electronic message sign at the NASDAQ Market Site in New York's Times Square July 8, 2005, which has been displaying the flag as part of a tribute to victims of Thursday's bombings in London.

Many Blogs throughout the world are displaying a Union Jack today as a sign of global support for the United Kingdom in these troubled times.

Explosions in London's commuter systems early yesterday killed at least 50 people and injured more than 700 during the morning rush.

Thursday, 7 July 2005

In a Tube Train

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These are other peoples' stories.

Read Pfff tell from one of the trains.

And then the after effects.

And another...

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Paris

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In Paris today, near la Defence.

The texts and emails started arriving at around 10:00 local time. London's phones were jammed and the mobile network appeared to be down.

By 11:00 we had pieced together the story.

Wednesday, 6 July 2005

London 2012 Olympics

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Maura told me that we'd won.

I'd heard the build up to the decision on Radio 4 earlier in the morning. The UK representative Tessa Jowell sounded very bouyant. We all knew that Paris was the only real competition. Another Britain/France Moment.

Hmm. I'm in Paris tomorrow - I wonder what Bertrand will say!

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Some of my preferred coverage of the build-up comes from an East London based blog from Diamond Geezer who has captured the environment and the local spirit of sometimes faltering hope well. Bow, Stratford, and all points East do well from this decision.

Tuesday, 5 July 2005

New beer keeps me awake at nights

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So someone has invented a beer which contains caffeine.

Anheuser-Busch is launching its caffeinated beer in the UK. BE (Beer With Extra) contains 5% alcohol, 60.4mg of caffeine, guarana, and ginseng. In the US, BE is sold as B-to-the-E (BE).

No chance of falling asleep after a beer now.

Monday, 4 July 2005

Arrange those chairs


Vestibular Unisinos is a simple point and click game which simply asks you to arrange chairs in various picturesque settings. Waste some hours.

Saturday, 2 July 2005

Great Generation

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Live8 London late evening

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Half an hour later, huge applause greeted Pink Floyd's arrival on stage at 11pm. Today's concert marks the first time the legendary band have played together in over 20 years. Speaking earlier to reporters, they were reluctant to suggest this could be the start of a reunion tour.

Under the slogan NO MORE EXCUSES the band played Breathe, Money, Wish You Were Here and then finished with Comfortably Numb.

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The Who's Pete Townsend

Peter Kay apologised for not being Robbie, and led the crowd in a mass karaoke version of Do You Know the Way to Amarillo? The comedian introduced "the Spice Girls! No. The Who? The Who!" Appropriately enough, the classic band performed Who Are You and Won't Get Fooled Again.

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As night fell, David Beckham came on stage to introduce "his good friend" Robbie Williams. Williams is one of the day's most eagerly anticipated performers. His arrival brought a much needed shot of adrenalin; he opened with Queen's We Will Rock You, segueing into Let Me Entertain You, mixed with the Killers' "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier" riff. A rendition of his classic track Angels finished the brief set.

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Sting followed, performing hits including Message in a Bottle and Every Breath You Take.

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Mariah Carey, backed by the African Children's Choir, and, true to form, wearing a dress at least two sizes too small, sang Make It Happen, Hero and We Belong Together.

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Shortly after 8pm The Scissor Sisters bounced onto stage. Singer Ana Matronic told the crowd to "put on your dancing shoes", and the New York group sang Laura, Take Your Mama, and a new song - the first act to do so - called Everybody Wants the Same Thing.

Matronic told the crowd they were going to "rewrite history."