Category Archives: Archives

As most of my work is invention, organisation and strategy, I don’t do a lot of tech work these days but I’ve been running this blog for fifteen years, so the archived tech, news and other ramblings are archived here.

The Fourth Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture

“Is the Human an Endangered Species?” by Professor Robert Winston

Date: Thursday 23 March 2006, 7:30pm
Venue: The Royal Geographic Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR
Price: £10.00 – Purchase tickets here.

Save the Rhino International and the Environmental Investigation Agency are co-hosting the Fourth Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture with a talk by Professor Robert Winston, on Thursday 23 March at the Royal Geographic Society in London SW7. In this talk, he will combine some of the apparently threatening aspects of technology and the trust, or lack of it, in science.

Bridging the Divide: Connected Communities and the Enabled Society

I’ve been invited to give the fourth in the Urban Learning Space‘s Learning Seminars series, on the seamless integration (or lack thereof) between our physical existence and our increasingly important virtual identities:

The When: Thursday 26th January 2006
11.30am – 2.00pm (includes lunch)

The Where: The Lighthouse, Mitchell Lane, Glasgow, G1 3NU
Gallery, Level 5.

Contact: Alison, or on 0141 225 0107.

As we individually and collectively communicate and interact, moving between our physical and virtual worlds, we need to refine and integrate our knowledge of both into our lives, to create and maintain who we are, beyond just our physical selves and our immediate communities. So how do we bridge the divide between the two, and what tools are around to help us do this? Who are we and how do we prove who we are, beyond our physical presence? How do we connect with virtual communities and knowledge networks and how do we ensure that these are integrated into our physical lives, and vice versa?

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The Whatness of the vServer

The vServer is an electronic publishing, blogging and collaboration platform, based around a flexible jigsaw of “best-of-breed” Open Source and Open Architecture components. The various elements of the jigsaw can, at need, be combined, substituted and integrated with existing enterprise infrastructures to provide a flexible architecture for the creation and maintenance of dynamic web sites, online communities, team collaboration and mobile device and service integration.

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The Powerbook is Dead…

…Long live the, ah, MacBook.

So we’re starting with sad note in technohistory: I’ve been surgically attached to both the name and entity of Powerbook since it first appeared rather more than fourteen years (and to my laughingly named Mac ‘Portable’ before that), so I’m unlikely to convert to the casual dropping of, “I’ll just grab my MacBook…” overnight. Or possibly not ever. And what happens when Apple migrates their Power Mac range to Intel – do we end up with the Mac Mac?

But enough of the sentimental maundering – this is supposed to be about what the Intel shift means to travelling photographers and meedja types, for whom a <whatever>Book is their weapon of choice, and for those Wintel frustratees who are considering a shift, now that direct platform comparisons are possible for the first time.

First things first, then – just what is a MacBook, and what’s changed from the previous generation of PowerPC-based machines?


A full specification is available on the Apple web site, so I’m not going to reiterate that, but concentrate on what’s changed, for better and worse. The basic industrial design remains as for the 15″ Aluminium PowerBooks, albeit in a case that’s 1cm wider than before, but a couple of mm slimmer – almost back to the thickness of the PowerBook Ti. Depth remains the same. Strange to tell, that little extra slimness is much more significant for travelling than the extra centimeter of width – I’ll happily trade a bit of footprint for something I can stuff into the narrowest possible space in a crowded equipment bag. A good start then. Now for the rest…

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Router Madness

Netgear DG814

I live in the country, in a place where the beer is real, wellies are green and broadband is something of a latecomer. In fact I didn’t get broadband in this corner of Surrey until two years ago, at which point, and after years of reliable ISDN service from my old faithful Netopia 3100 router in connecting to both the Net and our corporate Cisco-based systems, I leapt excitedly on the DSL bandwagon with a Netgear DG814. Now I’d modestly reckon that I’m usually pretty good at assessing technology and getting it right (it being part of my job’n’all…), but, as what followed demonstrated, I do seem to have developed a rather Nelsonian blind spot with regard to low-end routers…

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LloydsTSB Security Hole

Banks are conservative organisations, who worry about the security and integrity of their customers’ financial data, right? They’re conservative in that they won’t introduce new technologies or processes until their highly-skilled security analysts have had the chance to ensure that all bases are covered in terms of any potential security vulnerability, to themselves or their customers. Sounds entirely reasonable, doesn’t it? It also means that we should forgive them for being, shall we say, a tad slow in catching up with the way the world is and wishes to be.

So here’s a challenge for LloydsTSB: Please explain this:

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Ubiquity, Gorillas and the vServer

My field is Ubiquity – helping people and communities to enable themselves with effective and universally available knowledge, collaboration and online presence.

Ubiquity is a broad field, and one that tends to headline on the functionality and geek-chic of the endpoint devices and the ever-expanding notion of “invisible” technologies – from PDAs and mobile phones, through wearable computers and so on, to smart buildings and intelligent shoelaces.

I consider that holy grail of ‘invisible’ technology to be slightly spurious, finding the concept of ‘casual’ technology to be rather more useful. Here, people are able to extend the utility of the tools they already have available and are comfortable with using, rather than having to continually adopt new technologies and their infrastructures. My focus however is less on the endpoint technologies than on the knowledge architectures, models and processes which give people a reason to use the their technological tools, new or old, to seamlessly integrate their physical and virtual existences. The enabler for this is access to knowledge and association that is timely, contextualised, personalised and relevant to who they are, where they are and what they’re doing.

I’m the architect of a variety of more and less complex collaboration and content delivery systems and applications and regard the whole concept of individual and group empowerment for knowing, for interaction an collaboration as key to the emergence of a truly enabled society – I can bore for England on the subject.

I also work in some rather remote corners of the world. Which is to say that they’re remote only to us “Western” technorati – the people who live there find them usefully local. The remoteness is simply that of external perception, local infrastructure and access to the tools that access, create and present the connecting knowledge that breaks the barriers of medium, geography and culture. This is the true digital divide, where the affluent connected find it easier and cheaper to become more affluent and connected and, in being connected, lose contact with those societies that don’t form part of the infosphere and thereby tend to fall off the edge of our perceptual world. And so it goes. But what if people had that casual access to communication, presentation and collaborative knowledge? What if their voices, achievements, needs and aspirations could be heard, directly and immediately, across the world?

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