Friday, March 31, 2006

MP communications..

Apparently I'm the 162nd person, according to Hear from your MP ,who is wanting David Howarth to have a "more genuine sort of interaction than just being sent newsletters."

What we really need is a bulletin board like Grant Shapps MP runs here for his constituents in Welwyn Hatfield. They have had 1564 posts by 351 members. Interesting also that the software that runsthe board is free, supplied by simple machines
So David no exuses!

Thanks to Ellee for the Grant Shapps link

Do you like living in a democracy?

Well, enjoy it while you can, because it might not last much longer if the UK government get their way according to an article here.

The "Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill" is going through Parliament virtually on the nod.

This bill gives Ministers and their lackeys the ability to amend, replace, or repeal existing legislation without reference to Parliament and even worse can create new new criminal offenses as long as the sentence is not more than 2 years.

"More worryingly, the minister involved can amend any existing legislation; nothing is protected. So, as was pointed out in The Times by 6 law professors from Cambridge, a minister could abolish trial by jury, suspend habeas corpus (your right not to be arbitrarily arrested), or change any of the legislation governing the legal system."

Never mind Jim Murphy MP says "I give the House clear undertakings, which I shall
repeat in Committee, that the orders will not be used to implement
highly controversial reforms." s
o thats all right then!

Join the campaign here

Thanks to Rend for link.

Young entrepreneurs required (must be over 13)...

Just visited the Helio webside. Helio is another 3G virtual mobile operator. However, these guys are teaming up with Myspace so you can post content directly to your Myspace account.

Just love this, in their section "become a partner"
"Helio is looking for Agent Partners to be part of our new brand.
If you are interested in joining our world-class team,
click here
to tell us more about your company.
You must be 13 years of age or older in order to apply. For details, please see our Privacy Policy.


So any budding Branson's or Sugar's out there. here is your opportunity.

Thanks to Linksecret for the Helio Link

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Nevada Sports and Blogging does work

Sixteen days ago I did a blog post on the Nevada Sports, Les Gets website. A standard (ie poor) Flash jobbie. Prior to my previous post, Nevada Sports didn't even appear in Google when you entered in Ski Hire or Snowboard hire with Les Gets. Now nick reports:-

[17:29] Nick: have you seen that page you did for nevada?
[17:29] Nick: ski hire les gets - its number 3
[17:29] Nick: snowboard hire les gets - no 1
[17:30] Nick: nevada sports les gets - 2 after his own site
[17:31] Nick: nevada les gets - your no1

Pretty amazing eh! Who needs adwords when even a lowly blogger like myself can zoom sites up the ratings. As for people who design their homepage in Flash IMHO they want their heads examined.

Oh and Nevada Sports in Les Gets are also brilliant for mountain bikes in the summer, Poor Thierry is up till 2 in the morning fixing the damage wrought by the downhill cycling maniacs.

Ehthics - I'm not connected or getting paid by Nevada except for the normal fizzy cider - Thierry gives out to his best customers.


Just booked for Thomas's excellent conference Reboot8 in Copenhagen on the 1st/2nd June. Hopefully, it will be as good or even better than last years. Have decided to stay on for a couple of days after the event so I can get in some walking or cycling.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Children and Life

Another excellent article about Myspace here by Tom Foremski with a copy of this delightful poem, which I found very appealing as a father of three great kids.

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday."

from Lebanese writer K. Gibran

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Micro Persuasion: Another Company Goes Blog Only

Micro Persuasion: Another Company Goes Blog Only
I'm sure Ellee will be delighted to read this. The comments are particularly interesting

"Idea Grove is designing Web sites based on Blogger and an open source platform, with content included, for $7,500. Before we started using blog software, our Web sites started at $15,000. So it's cool stuff."

Blimey charging £5000 for free software and some content - sounds like the makings of a good business to me. OK must get back to setting up my new wordpress blog on

Monday, March 27, 2006

Plate tectonics from theory to junior school..

Yesterday Philip and I went to the excellent lecture by Prof. Dan McKenzie given in my old workplace at The Cavendish Labs. I also got to ride a Segway, but thats another story! The lecture was the final event in the Cambridge Science week.

Dan started with a slide of of Hess's work which got him started as a post graduate in 1967 and explained how he developed the theory of the spreading ridge and how the seismometers developed for detecting underground nuclear tests proved to be invaluable for determing the precise position of all the earthquakes in the world. Showing that in the oceans, for example, they form a beautiful line midway between Africa and The Americas.

He then explained how the subvention of the tectonic plates lead to one plate sliding under the other, the lower plate sticks and then pushing the top plate down with it (loading). Eventually the force is to great and the upper plate pings free (unloading) causing an earthquake and the land on the top plate to return to its original level. Fascinating stuff.

Even more amazing is that on land, especially in Iran etc due to the plates rubbing against each other and producing clay, surface water is trapped. Hence Oasis's are formed at faults which lead to cities and towns been built around them with the unfortunate consequences like Bam, where the city was levelled by an eathquake to such an extent that the streets could not be identified and 40,000 were killed. Even so he showed a picture of where a new hospital has been built right across a fault line.

He went on to the depressing tale of the Tsunami in Indonesia with a story of how one of his colleagues saved the occupants of the hotel were they were staying because he saw the signs, apparently you have about 16mins - the sea goes out for 15mins and returns as a 7metre wave in 1 min.

Then showed a chart plotting the earthquake trend moving down the faultline. with the next quake predicted to hit close to Sumatra any time soon with his gloomy estimate of 1million casualties. Similar charts were shown for along the Pakistan India region.

What can be done? build better houses, for 10% more cost houses can be made more earthquake resistant. Educate the children to nag their parents into doing it! Education prevents cheating when building. Large buildings can be built on lead which allows movement.

He expressed amazement at how quickly his work has been accepted. In less than 40 years its gone from theory to now been taught in primary schools!

The science week has been a tremendous success tThe Cavendish must have had hundreds of visitors all making balloon powered Wacky Racers and testing their strength against a vacuum.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Sony's New Controller

Further to Tom Armitage's talk I now notice on Engadget a story speculating about the new controller for the Sony Play Station 3.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Citizen communication at its finest.

Here is the most gut wrenching tale of what really happened at one of the July 7th bombings in London recounted by one of the survivors Rachel who helped set up the survivors action group "Kings Cross United". It is staggering to think that university college hospital was only 6 minutes away and the incompetence of the government departments "I have worked out that I gave my details out eleven times at least, possibly more, but by 24th October I was still, apparently, not on an official Department of Culture Media and Sport list of survivors, and nor were many other passengers. This is staggeringly incompetent" and even more shockingly to me is that "Ambulances did not arrive at Russell Square until almost 11am" even though they were called at 9.18am and that Rachel got to the hospital (by taxi) soon after 9.40am and obviously made them aware of the tragedy and remember this is not in a remote location, one of the UK's finest teaching hospitals is literally a 6minute walk away. No wonder Blair is refusing a public enquiry.

Rachel's full blog of her ordeal and subsequent events is at

Insync Technology 2.0 in Soho

Last night entertainment was visiting the Insync Technology 2.0 event presented by Dave Green of NTK. The 01Zero-One centre is conveniently located just behind the main red light area in Soho. The event was packed (about 100), interestingly, given last weeks conference, there were around 25 -30% females. The highest proportion yet seen by me at a geeky type event. An excellent evening, if very rushed, it started at 6.30 and the place HAD to be emptied by 9pm with 6 very good presentations in between and a couple of wine breaks. All my photos are on Flickr tagged Tech2.0@Zero1 The talks in order of appearance:-

Nick & Robert Ludlam Promise TV -Unshackling you from the tyranny of television scheduling
Nick gave a quick review of the past history (Ludlam family have been into TV for over 50 years) history of VCR and Greg Dykes greatest achievement with Freeview which gives the UK 5 analog and 30+ digital channels for free. The VCR/PVR markets havent kept up ie Watch one record 2 is current max.
Demonstrated their very neat box that can record simultanously 18 channels in their entirety for a weekend. It has a seperate thin client that allows access through a remote control with elegant on screen software to access a recording or part thereoff . The box allows upto 4 thin clients. Comments from the existing (2)users:-
You watch less TV
Engagement threshold moves up
Last Nights TV in Metro can be watched!
Considerably less live TV watched
News primarily comes from Radio
They still buy The Radio Times
They are currently going into beta mode making a couple each week themselves. A really great product but I can't help feeling they are never going to reach its huge potential without a radical change in strategy which will be hard for them. But still an amazing family. and product.

Tom Armitage then gave an amazing animated talk on why game console controllers are killing creativity in videogames. Apparently about 31% of households have consoles but the market has zero growth even though gaming is bigger than Hollywood. Tom speculates that this is due to the complexity and user unfriendliness of the game controllers, which apparently gain two extra buttons at each evolutionary stage. Hence, new gamers find them aesthitically uninspiring.

More detailed write up of Toms talk at etech is here

Liz Turner then spoke about her work at revisualizing the time line data obtainable at Harpers. She displayed some pretty cool isometric layouts of timelines with icons. Really impressive software which she says is a bit buggy but maybe she will open source her work.

Charles Armstrong of Trampoline then described his experiences on living for 12 months in an isolated community of 80 people on St Agnes in the Scilly Islands. Things he learned-
Groups have implicit authorisation parameters that govern how they interact.
Groups pool intelligence on who needs to know.
Groups function as targets.
Semantic tags attach to each person or group.
F urther away two people are the higher the threshold to pass information.
Then showed how this can be used to change distribution of knowledge in large enterprises.

Dan Catt then went into a little tirade of how he hates the telephone companies and the OS for holding onto all that locational data which could be used for doing interesting things with photos etc, Dan works at Flickr. Instead people are having to re-invent the wheel with the openstreetmap project (a group are descending on the Isle of Wight to open map the island).

Yoz Grahame of Ning then had a really good demonstration of how ning makes it really easy for anyone to make cool Social Web applications by cloneing previous apps and putting in your own details, appparently there are some blog apps too. For a fee they will even do the hosting of your domain name. Yoz then showed as his bunnie which apparently can detect wiFi networks and then using using Ning you can write applications that wiggle its ears.
The cool thing is Ning is all self-financed. I'm sure Google or Yahoo will buy them out - this stuff is just soooo cool. Or maybe Robert Scoble can get his lunch mate Bill to buy them.

Right I'm off to write that killer Ning application right now :-)

The blogging Tories

This site i would imagine is Ellee's nirvana. OK this is the Canadian Tories but who knows if the UK will be next. Especially now that Ellee has garnered support from Tim Worstall

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

My space and shortly Mysun

Interesting story in The Guardian about Murdoch bringing out a version of Myspace (see my earlier post) for UK Sun readers called MySun. Sounds a great idea to kick some life into the UK blogging scene.

Found on business2business

Google finance launches

If you go to you can now enter your portfolio and track it. Or more precisely if you are in the USA you can. The rest of the world gets :-
will support international symbols soon

So Yahoo is still in the lead...

Thanks to memeorandum and Silicon Beat for the story.

Monday, March 20, 2006

An autistic evening...

Just back with Em from a very enjoyable talk given by Simon Baron-Cohen on Gifted Scientists and Autism - Is there a connection? as part of the Cambridge Science Festival

He quickly dismissed the work done on finding autistic traits from the biographies of Newton and Einstein as been unfair, unreliable and unclear even though someone who lectured for 17 years to an empty lecture theatre may be construed as rather odd.

Simon then went on to describe the traits associated with Autism and Aspergers and how the ratio of diagnoses varies between the sexes (Autism 4:1 males/females) (Aspergers 9:1 males/females)
Then pointing out that everyone shows some of these traits, so they were looking into small changes. (Interestingly at this point the original lecture theme is lost and he just started talking about 'scientists' and more specifically entrants to Cambridge University science departments) .
He then described the various tests they have created to measure Empathy Quotient, Systemizing Quotient, Autism-Spectrum quotient

Then he showed some neat work done with at 12 months that girls had better eye contact with their mother (22) Boys (16) Autisitc (5) and then with 24 hours old babies showing that boys preferred looking at mobiles rather than faces.

Then went on to correlate this to Foetal testosterone
even though identical twins only have a 60% correlation in diagnosis of Autism. followed very quickly by some brain scan images showing that females brains worked differently when looking at emotions conveyed by eye images.

We sat behind Lindy Beveridge who told Em and I that the architects of the new Maths building in Cambridge had designed it specifically for Autistic people. Also about the Professor who nearly lost his job over suggesting that women should relax more in pregnancy because the adrenal gland produces testosterone in women.

An interesting evening, although I really need to start learning more about statistics, David Spiegelhalter here I come....

Logging visitors to this blog....

Just started to use My Blog Log to gather statistics on folks using this blog. Really very interesting the search terms people are using to find it. such as "revolution health" "weekends in krakov"
Heres a screenshot taken from it:-

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Technology v DRM

Excellent quote::HorsePigCow:: life uncommon: SXSW Highlights: "'Technology is about enabling people. DRM (Digital Rights Management) is about disabling people. DRM is the opposite of what technology should do.' Ian Clarke (Freenet), Commons-Based Business Models" I'm sure Cory Doctorow would agree

Self rating in a minority

On Friday I attended the Technology and Gender Inequalities conference at CRASSH here in Cambridge the event was part of the Social Science Week.

I was prompted to go by Shelleys article on Burningbird about the Our Social World Conference I held last year and her comments about the lack of women attending. Another reason is having a daughter who is about to launch into womanhood.

Twas a very interesting day loads of excellent lectures well summarised by Laura in this post. (Turns out we have a mutual acquaintance in Quentin). The room was well packed with the males very much in the minority!

Here's a brief outline:-

Ingrid Schoon spoke about women and careers in science etc. They had analysed the data taken in two longitundinal studies (BCS70 and NCDS, about 10,000 people) and made a contextual development model. Steve Pavlina wouldnt be surprised to note the massive importance of teenage (16) aspirations in been a career predictor for SET (Science, Engineering, Technology) also the importance of self rated math ability and teacher rated math ability (Note: not ACTUAL math ability)

Mia's talk, for me, was the most disturbing. They had interviewed a local company (could it be the one who has "The architecture for the digital world"). She found severe job segregation with female engineers doing support and debugging not development or managerial even worse the women had no language to talk about mentors/networks and found promotion a mystery. The men meanwhile were strongly mentored and all had been invited to apply for their jobs. An interesting aside was her comment that once women dominate a profession then the profession becomes less valued. Dreadful

Sonia Liff spoke about Digital divides and how the internet is used differently although some hope here with her statement "Does the data suggest areas of gender convergence - eg women becoming more comfortable with the technical, men becoming better at maintaining relationships"

Hua Dong had an excellent talk about Inclusive design. Pointing out that 62% of designers are under 40 whilst 21% of UK population is over 60 and half of the population is over 46! Had lots of great examples of good and bad design with the comment what is good for women is good for everyone. Mentioned Patricia Moore
who For a period of three years (1979-1982), in an exceptional and daring experiment, Moore traveled throughout the United States and Canada disguised as women more than eighty years of age. With her body altered to simulate the normal sensory changes associated with aging, she was able to respond to people, products, and environments as an elder.
(Maybe should get Nick to do this). She also pointed out the Chinese characters for blogging are based on doctor and guest!

Dale Southerton spoke on the temporal organisation of daily life. His data was from the Mass Observation in 1937 and 20 recent interviews. basically people work more to consume more. Interesting comment was that women are always busy, independent of marital status, number of kids, career or not. another comment was about harriedness and dividing time between cold spots (chill out zones) and hot spots (frenetic activity). I found this talk difficult to understand and interestingly he was obviously very flustered in operating the equipment - could it be that when you are in a minority your self rating is lowered and you become flustered?

Miriam Glucksmann spoke about the transformation of womens labour at home. Pointing out that women went from been "In Service" (Domestic employment in rich households) under a woman to factory work being under men making products for the home! (eg Radios, cleaners, kettles etc). She then went on to convenience foods ,explaining they aren't recent eg sausages but speculating on how the chilled food sector has affected womens role today. Interestingly she hadnt heard of the miners making sushi in Worksop in a real role reversal. Think she needs to get in touch with Solway

Pity there was insufficient time for discussion and that Mia had to leave half way through day (Ironic point here - for childcare duties). But very enjoyable.

My space or Over there space

A VC (Who I note has a similar personality profile to me) has an interesting article about Myspace. I find it interesting that most parents I speak to here in the UK are not even aware of Myspace's existence, even though Murdoch bought it for $580m in July 2005, and that most of their kids are using it.

I like this analogy via A VC's article from Chartreuse :-

Every day millions of kids get on bikes and ride around neighborhoods across the country without much parental supervision.

Now a lot of bad things can happen to a kid on a bike.

She can be hit by a car.

She can be abducted.

She can fall and break her arm.

She can just ride off as far as her feet can take her and decide never to come back home again

Now because of all the horrible things which can happen to a kid on
a bike a huge industry was created. They sell helmets, kneepads, tracking systems, and the like to make bikes safer or parents feel more secure.

Despite all this stuff most parents still just give their kids some rules and let them ride.

MySpace is just the modern bike.

Lots of horrible things can happen to a kid on the internet. And the
industry will continue to grow based around protecting children from
all that horrible stuff or making parents feel more secure.

But the truth of the matter is that most parents will just give there child some rules and let them ride.

And that’s o.k.

I guess the big difference is that you can see when your kid is out because the bike has gone and that maybe you established ground rules when they learned how to ride.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Intention economy at work?

Is this is an example of Doc Searls intention economy at work? Rogier Mulder's Apple magSafe power connector burnt up so he posted pictures onto Flickr. Apple apparently saw the pictures ,asked for them to be taken down. But here is the good bit "Apple support responded very well (thanks Klaas) and fast. Before I
called our local Apple support line, the dutch engineers were already
contacted by their US collegues (who saw the pics)"

Friday, March 17, 2006

commoditization or Decommoditification

Two takes on commoditisation one by Hugh
"And selling commodities is hard. If you don't give the customer exactly what she wants" and one from Geoff Moore
"What you want to do is overcome the force of commoditization, which works to your disadvantage, eroding your margins."
Interesting reads

Clinically Famous Bellydance

Visited my Pilates Teacher Daphne on her second night of the play chronicling her time in Cairo as a bellydancer. An excellent performance with some great bellydancing as well.

The second part was by Caroline Ann Gold called Clinically Famous and was a dramatised version of her stay at The Priory with agitated depression coupled with a critique of soap operas. Very amusing with excellent acting.

Both plays were directed by John Voce

They are intending to take both plays to The Edinburgh Fringe if they can raise the few thousand quid it takes. Maybe I can get Euan Spence interested in helping out...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

When will they learn....Ski Hire Les Gets France

My friend Thierry who runs Nevada Sports, a really passionate person dedicated to ski/snowboard/mountainbike sales and rental in Les Gets, France. Thierry is keen to raise his internet profile. I've suggested to him blogging but to no avail. His latest attempt at a web site is using Clic online to implement a flash effort.
Running a spoof googlebot supplied by Smart IT consulting gives this result on his home page:-
Louer vos skis et votre snowboard, payer moins cher avec Nevada Sports, station de ski Les Gets
meta name="description" content="Louez, Reservez votre materiel en ligne, et economisez sur la location. Des packs (skis, snowboard, casques..) adaptes a tous types de glisse, du debutant au confirme. Un moniteur national de ski a votre service pres des pistes des chavannes, station de ski des gets. Portes du soleil, liaison, avoriaz, morzine, nyon."
Which to my way of thinking is awful. Your first page should be text rich, maximising your google opportunities. How will a UK person typing in ski hire Les Gets, ever find him? Maybe this post will help a little.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Personality Test

A really cool way of testing your personality is at using really slick sliders and 2D layouts.

I'm a Free wheeling Leader apparently

And two of my children are:-
The Animated Visionary and The Cautious Director:-

So perhaps we will get a family business up and running one day althought our common thread is a low empathy!

Thanks to Erick Schonfeld at

First Skype video

Here is a still of my first video Skype call with Nick. Only problem is it seems to crash his network :-(

Its really cool, although a biyt 'jerky' . I like the PIP (picture in picture) mode.
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