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.

Mopodcasting and Other Gratuitousness

Language evolves. New words arise to meet changing needs, old ones are adapted or discarded along the way, and the faster the change in the area of need, the faster new words arise. And that’s before we get into arguments over functionality illiteracy and laziness being used as an excuse to mangle the language. No really, let’s not. Of course the technology/media/content industry is about the planet’s prime culprit here – if a techie Rip van Winkle had fallen asleep in 1985 and had just come to, he or she would be somewhere twixt boggled and brainfried. But at least ForTran‘s still around…

This time it started with “blogging”, a contracted conflation (contraflation?) of “web logging”, itself a verbification of something many of us had been doing for years, quite happily and without feeling the need for the naming of names – the doing of things being more important. In essence though, “blogging” is the creation of dynamically updated web site content through the medium of an automated content management system. It’s perception ranges from being the reinvention of journalism in a post-post-literate society to a vanity publishing tool for the geek-at-heart. Of course, these are not mutually exclusive. What it has done is to create a massive and large accessible resource of information and opinion, plus mechanisms for its distribution and connection, which contains essential lessons for organisations in today’s emergent and adaptive environments. Polemic over for the moment and back to the -oggness of things:

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Mopodcasting by GPRS

Now here’s something slightly more sophisticated: I’ve made a voice
recording from deep in the forest on my PDA (in this case a Palm),
combined it in an e-mail with a picture from my camera phone
(transferred to the PDA by Bluetooth) and forwarded it as an e-mail by
GPRS to the moblogging server. This has posted the picture and the
audio file to the web site and created a podcast feed for the audio
file only.
<img src="/images/attach_sound.gif" alt='‘ border=”0″ />

Demonstration of Gallery Integration

The vServer platform includes the ability to create, manage and display photogalleries. We use the Gallery package from Menalto Software.
This can work as a standalone package or can be used for image management, with the galleries created then being integrated with Movable Type, using the MTPhotoGallery Plugin by Brandon Fuller. This works simply by placing the name of the gallery folder in the keyword field, with [] around it, thusly: [Kenya05].

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Creative Commons reaches the UK

Transvangardian Art
At a wine and conversation-fuelled bash at The October Gallery in London’s Holborn last night, the Creative Commons licenses for England and Wales were launched. These are a set of legally-enforceable licenses for digital content that allow the originator to specify their requirements for attribution and to place limits on consequential use of their content. If you believe as I do, that the currency of knowledge is attribution, then this model of encouraging distribution and meme-building without losing that acknowledgement is both flexible and necessary.

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Now Ain’t That Something…

Last night, and a mere twenty years after its original release, the Twentieth Anniversary edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy took the impressively heavy 2005 BAFTA Interactive award for Online Entertainment. For a computer game – a genre reknowned for having a shelf life of weeks rather than years, this is a unique achievement. It’s also a tribute to the principle that intelligent and engaging entertainment is timeless, no matter what the medium, and to the imagination, wit and humour of its authors. So congratulations are very much in order to the memory of Douglas Adams, to Steve Meretzky and to the BBC, Sean Sollé, Shimon Young and Rod Lord, who between them created the Twentieth Anniversary edition. The award itself is lovingly photographed here in the exotic surroundings of a Holborn Pizza restaurant, whose staff created an impromptu homage to the occasion by taking 7.5 million years to serve dinner.

Last Chance to See… …Just a bit more

<img src="files/dna/0330320025.02.MZZZZZZZ.jpg” border=”0″ alt=”Book cover” />

The Third Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture, in celebration of the life and universe of Douglas Adams.

Date: Thursday 10 March 2005
Venue: The Royal Institution, Albemarle Street, London W1
Time: Lecture begins at 7.30pm
Speaker: Mark Carwardine
Price: £20 for main auditorium with a drink beforehand £12 for gallery seating without a drink

For information including how to buy tickets please see www.savetherhino.org.

Lecture synopsis: Zoologist Mark Carwardine (co-author of Last Chance to See with Douglas Adams) spends more than half the year travelling the world in search of wildlife and exploring wild places.

In this highly entertaining lecture Mark describes some of his experiences and encounters with wild animals and even wilder people around the world – including some hilarious behind-the-scenes stories from Last Chance to See. And, inevitably, he has a thing or two to say about the state of the world.

The lecture will be followed by a fundraising auction, lots will include signed film memorabilia, VIP tickets to the film premier and signed copies of the Quintessential Phase: Mostly Harmless radio script.

BAFTA Interactive Awards 2005

The 2nd March 2005 sees the BAFTA Interactive Awards ceremony, in which the BBC’s Twentieth Anniversary presentation of the original Infocom Interactive Fiction game of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is nominated in the Online Entertainment section. Having been responsible for the simple original online presentation of the game and been a past BAFTA juror, I’m keeping various bits of anatomy crossed for its success. Here’s hoping…

If you’ve arrived here from the BBC site, there’s a potted history of the Infocom game here, which includes never before seen scans of some of Douglas Adams and Steve Meretzky’s original notes and designs, photos taken during development of the game, the original ZIL code from the game development (of historical interest only unless you happen have a spare 1980s vintage DEC-10 computer lying around, but may contain some game spoilers) and extracts from various interviews that Steve has given about life, the game and working with Douglas.

Two Worlds Web

Well, it’s here: after far too long an embarrassing silence, I’ve finally taken the Two Worlds web site into the technology and presentation that matches my thinking and working practice – while I can argue that I’ve been too busy with vision, engagement and strategy for clients to have time to address my own, that would be but a small part of the truth. Finally though, pragma and need have coincided, so here is the first public iteration of the Two Worlds site. It’s new, it’s but as yet sparsely populated, so please do come back regularly as I develop the social, commercial and technological thought themes behind my business, add current and historical information around the Ubiquity model of the enabled society and then leaven the whole with a little humour, technocracy and random digression. Alternatively, subscribe to any of the site’s XML feeds (see pretty buttons to the right) to be kept informed of changes and updates.

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Browsers and Brain cells

Here’s an opinion: The Web is about being accessible to all –  it is not, nor should it be, the domain of any one operating system, organisation or web browser. There are a good set of international standards which determine how information is delivered to and presented by browsers. Most – no, make that, “nearly all” –  browsers are compliant with those standards, within a few degrees of buggishness and interpretation. So making a site work with these is a matter of tweaking by degree, not kind. There is of course one notable exception, and that (again, “of course”) is Microsoft. And here we do appear to have a combination of conspiracy AND cock-up: Microsoft are trying to drive/keep the industry in thrall to a proprietary browser and the related server architecture. They are also guilty of producing a product that, in terms of compliance to standards, is full of bugs, ommissions and misinterpretations of best practice. Whether those are driven by corporate decision, gratuitous disregard or blind ignorance is another matter. By whatever means though, its browsers display a moderately cavalier disregard for standards and are of such a bug-ridden nature that making a site work consistently requires delving into an underworld of hacks, tweaks and rewrites that are sufficient to cause apoplexy or death-by-boredom in any thinking organism. Approximately 40% of the development time for this site has been spent in trying to implement fixes and work-arounds for Microsoft’s browsers. In comparison, tweaking for all other browsers has been, in most cases, a matter of minutes.

In order to tread the fine line of compromise between high-handed disregard for poor design and monopolistic practice and preventing the many users of such products from actually accessing these sites, we’ve gone for the “greatest good of the greatest number” and made everything work with W3C DOM-based browsers and the later versions of Internet Explorer, on Windows and Mac. But please do consider this, by preference, an ABM site: Anything But Microsoft. If they ever learn and decide to create standards-compliant browsers, then that’s just fine and dandy. In the meantime, I look forward to the day when the world’s web designers bring a class action against them, to claim for the time, brain cells and money lost in trying to make their bloody browsers work. Me, I’m off to ride my motorcycle.

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