New Services I’ve found interesting recently

I’ve been playing with a few services recently and I thought it might be worth blogging about…

  • Diigo.com
    while moving away from delicious I found diigo did everything I needed a whole lot more.
  • Ifttt.com
    also posted about if this then in a previous post too but I’m finding nice new ways to use it for example to get read items on my kindle back in a form I can blog about again.
  • DeskSMS
    Not quite installed this yet but I’m very tempted because I’ve always wanted a way to manage text messages from more than my phone and it looks like DeskSMS might be the best way to do so. Although a lot of people swear by Mighty text too
  • Glos.si
    I read about Glos.si in the Lifestreaming blog, and decided I’d give it a shot because its been quite some time since I’ve really played with a decent lifestreaming service. The one I host on my own blog is alright but is missing quite a few of the great stuff Glos.si or the old fav’s Sweetcron and Storytlr had. This also reminds me I should kill all the other lifestreaming services I’ve used in the past
  • Storify
    This has always interested me but its only now I’ve gotten around to looking at it with some time.

Piracy is the future of television

Piracy is the future of TV by Abigail DeKosnik

Nice little paper written by Abigail DeKosnik of the University of California, Berkeley. Its also formed a part of my talk at BarCampMediaCity.

One of the headings is the Advantages of Pirating TV and the subpoints are…

  • Single Search
  • Simple Indexing
  • Uniform Software and Interface
  • File Portability
  • Access to Global TV
  • Freedom from Preempting in the U.S
  • Personal Archives
  • Low-Cost and Commercial-Free

Lastly theres a section on Recommendations to Legal Services under which theres…

  • Standardise
  • Offer Downloading and Streaming
  • Strategize for Global Audiences
  • Offer a Premium Services for Personal Archivists
  • Eliminate the TV Set
  • Charge Subscription Fees Based on Volume of Usage

In the Appendix, theres recommended reading

The paper is a good one and for most of the people reading it, its maybe really good but it spells out quite a few things which you would already know if you were an avid read of torrentfreak, darknet, etc…

Do delicious understand there audience?

I heard that Delicious was relaunching so I thought I’d check it out.

I tried to login and it said there was a problem with my login and password. So after  a series of 404′s and 502′s over 2 days, I finally got my password changed (still don’t know what was wrong with my previous one, as I know it was correct) and was able to finally export my updated bookmarks (I had a older version).

I’ve not really looked back as I’m now with Diigo… Good reddens seriously and I’m not the only one…

Here’s one commenter, Suman, explaining what went wrong via Thomas Vander Wal:

I had a fairly bad experience with the new Delicious today. Just last week I had spent a few hours curating my saved bookmarks and organizing tags. The new Delicious doesn’t seem to know anything about it. All my effort is lost. There is no longer a bulk-edit function to redo my changes. I can no longer manage my tags – could find no option for deleting old tags. Some of my tags with special characters are now broken, I get a 404 when I try to access them. I am done. Goodbye Delicious.

Yes, goodbye delicious, we had fun times in the past but I have no idea what your new owners are up to and to be honest I don’t like it, I’m done!

Amazon Kindle Fires off

Kindle Fire

First impressions of the Amazon Kindle Fire?

Fantastic! Its roughly a 7inch Kindle/Tablet with some decent power and enough storage for general consumption… And its only 199 dollars!

That means even if they shift the dollars price over directly into pounds its still a very reasonable price. Funny enough its about the same price as the HP touchpad when it was on sale.

Theres still quite a lot which is unknown such as side loading apps, which version of Android and ultimately how hackable the device will be but Amazon have totally blown the Nook Color out of the water ($249). In fact a lot of the tablets will struggle against the Kindle Fire, even the Ipad. The Kindle fire is just so cheap that it will be come a thing people will just have. Amazon have gone for the mass which frankly isn’t a bad idea at all.

Not having the Android Market isn’t a massive deal because frankly its just a matter of getting the developers to submit the same application to the Amazon store instead. Amazon have really taken the ideals of free and open to the maximum, now if only I was in the States! Maybe I can buy one off the back of the amazon account confusion…?

The other Kindles all look good and finally its good to see Amazon releasing a Touch screen version for all those who can’t live without touching the screen. But for now I’m sticking with my Kindle as I’ve not really seen enough to make me switch, plus I like the keyboard anyway.

Which Galaxy? The Samsung Galaxy…

Been thinking about getting a Tablet for a long while for the purposes of aiding with my needs to better write notes, recite things, etc. I was hoping the 7inch Samsung Galaxy tab would have dropped to much lower price by now but its holding its price quite well still.

So avoiding all the Apple crap, I was pushing for the Samsung galaxy tablet 10.1, then they announced the galaxy 7.7inch (not to be confused with the older 7inch) and at the same a 5inch sudo tablet which actually looks like a oversized phone. But I quite like it because it reminds me of the ipod touch (not in looks but more in how could be used) and I’m it would make a very good note taking device specially if I can get a bluetooth keyboard working with it?

Yes it won’t have Honeycomb (android 3) on it but to be honest I’m not that fused. Gingerbread (android 2.3) has most of the things I need, would use. I’m also expecting Icecream sandwich (android 4) will be hacked on the device once the source is made publicly available.

Will be interesting having a stylus too, specially since theres very few apps which support the stylus…

Whats a woman to do? stop making startups about babies, shopping, etc…?

Been meaning to blog about this for ages but once again BarCampMediaCity occupied most of my time over the last few weeks/month.

I saw a blog post from the irresistible Tara Hunt and almost hit the roof when reading it… (Don’t worry there’s plenty more roof hitting in the next few blog posts)

The punch was the tweet which came from Jolie O’Dell, who seems to be someone a lot of people know and follow (although to be fair I’d never really heard of her before). Her tweet said…

Jolie's Tweet (for my blog)

Or if you disabled images for what ever reason, it reads “Women: Stop making startups about fasion, shopping & babies. At least for the next few years. You’re embarrassing me.

As some one commented on Tara’s Flickr, Can’t wait to see your response to this one! and [gets popcorn]. I won’t even touch on the tweets and general outrage only because Tara’s done a great job summing it up.

So what can I bring to the discussion almost 3 weeks later? Not that much but I do find it interesting reading Tara’s post and her post analysis.

I kind of wish I could just pull together my thoughts while reading on the tram into work recently (need to tie together ifttt with storyify… But I was surprised by Tara’s sobering conclusion.

When I moved to San Francisco in 2005, it took me about 6 months to deny myself my femininity. It wasn’t fashionable to be fashionable. I moved to SF with a closet full of designer dresses, suits and shoes and within 6 months all I was wearing were jeans and t-shirts. I am ecstatic to see photos of events filled with women in dress clothes and high heels. My only embarrassment lies in that I didn’t have the *erm* balls to be the woman I am back then.

Instead of embarrassed that there are so many women doing startups involving fashion/shopping/babies, I’m proud. I’m proud of a truly inclusive tech scene where women can women, men can men, women can men, men can women and all sorts of other genderific combinations thereof. And I, for one, welcome the pink ghettoization of the tech startup scene – at least for the time being – because it means women are making a grand entrance. And what an entrance it is!

Tara’s quite a lady and its a real shame she felt she had to adopt her style, lifestyle and personality to favour a male dominated world just to fit in with the perceived or otherwise differences.

This all somewhat hap-hazardly spills into my thinking about woman of today.

Someone, can’t remember who pointed me at this New York Times piece titled… Whats a modern girl to do?

Once again I had it saved in my readitlater list and was slowly digesting parts of it on my kindle while almost throwing my kindle out the window in almost total disgust.

For example…

[1] Men, apparently, learn early to protect their eggshell egos from high-achieving women. The girls said they hid the fact that they went to Harvard from guys they met because it was the kiss of death. “The H-bomb,” they dubbed it. “As soon as you say Harvard Business School . . . that’s the end of the conversation,” Ani Vartanian said. “As soon as the guys say, ‘Oh, I go to Harvard Business School,’ all the girls start falling into them.”

[2] Women in their 20′s think old-school feminists looked for equality in all the wrong places, that instead of fighting battles about whether women should pay for dinner or wear padded bras they should have focused only on big economic issues. After Googling and Bikramming to get ready for a first dinner date, a modern girl will end the evening with the Offering, an insincere bid to help pay the check. “They make like they are heading into their bag after a meal, but it is a dodge,” Marc Santora, a 30-year-old Metro reporter for The Times, says.  “They know you will stop them before a credit card can be drawn. If you don’t, they hold it against you.”

My mom gave me three essential books on the subject of men. The first, when I was 13, was “On Becoming a Woman.” The second, when I was 21, was “365 Ways to Cook Hamburger.” The third, when I was 25, was “How to Catch and Hold a Man,” by Yvonne Antelle. (“Keep thinking of yourself as a soft, mysterious cat.. . .Men are fascinated by bright, shiny objects, by lots of curls, lots of hair on the head . . . by bows, ribbons, ruffles and bright colors.. . .Sarcasm is dangerous. Avoid it altogether.”)

Its a long piece but its well worth reading because there’s so much interesting stuff in there.

Honestly I don’t know what to say but it seems like I might be out of touch with the ultra modern woman (it may seem).

The modern woman seems to have rejected all the feminism ideals of the past few decades. She sees that whole movement as backwards, counter productive and somewhat old fashioned. But as the post concludes at the end, there’s certain amount of boomeranging which is going to happen.

Having boomeranged once, will women do it again in a couple of decades? If we flash forward to 2030, will we see all those young women who thought trying to Have It All was a pointless slog, now middle-aged and stranded in suburbia, popping Ativan, struggling with rebellious teenagers, deserted by husbands for younger babes, unable to get back into a work force they never tried to be part of?

It’s easy to picture a surreally familiar scene when women realize they bought into a raw deal and old trap. With no power or money or independence, they’ll be mere domestic robots, lasering their legs and waxing their floors – or vice versa – and desperately seeking a new Betty Friedan.

Revolutionising your desktop one step at a time

Desktop Agosto 2011

Recently I’ve had the joy of taking the tram into work everyday. I keep meaning to buy a monthly pass but having to get a photocard done at the GMPTE (greater manchester transport, like TFL is to London) but forget. Anyway some people may have noticed I’m tweeting a lot of links and passages from my Kindle. This only works due to the wifi hotspot on my rooted HTC desire, because of course the Trams don’t have wifi but have the advantage of being above ground and crossing Manchester City centre.

One of the posts I read via Linux Magazine was about the design choices going into the next generation desktops.

The post talks about the outrage by different communities involved with the next generation of desktops.

This is something I feel very strongly about because of my disdain of Ubuntu’s unity desktop. I understand some of the reasons which make it opinionated software but it doesn’t mean I have to like it :) So I switched to using the very much beta Gnome3 desktop which is a breath of fresh air but also has problems (even on my new thinkpad x220).

At work I tend to switch between the two because I’m driving a 24″ full HD display along side my laptop screen, so keep logging in and out for reasons I’ll explain another day.

In the post, it talks about how Gnome3, Ubuntu Unity and KDE4 have had problems because they all have made some difficult changes. But to be honest this is consistent with Microsoft Windows 8′s move into Metro and OSX’s move into a more iOS type platform. All are tricky and full of people upset and confused.

To be honest they could all learn from the points of the post…

  • Don’t change too much too quickly
  • Build user testing into each stage of the development
  • Whenever possible, leave legacy features in place
  • Don’t impose work-flows from above
  • Beware of designer fads
  • Don’t view function and aesthetics as separate
  • If a design is too noticeable, then maybe it’s too clever to use
  • Talk to your readers as you work
There all valid and good points. I’m sure most of the linux desktops are doing most of these. Interesting point however is the tension between
opinionated software and the last point talking to the users of your work. Being too proud or too precious will ultimately put you in a worst position overall in my book, but I’m sure others would totally disagree…?

If this then…. web pipelines are back again?

ifthisthenthat workflow setup for #workbetter tweets

I first read about if this thenon lifehacker today while riding into work on the tram.

If This Then That is a simple to use tool to keep your social networks, to-do lists, RSS feeds, imaging sites, and all your other webapps on the same page.

The core of If This Then That works off of different channels you can use to create your own recipes for sharing by using the basic instruction, “if this, then that.” For instance, you can set it so that if you text message something with a particular hashtag to a specified number, then it will automatically create a note in Evernote. You can also set it to automatically pull your photos off Instagram and save them to Dropbox, send you a text message when you have a Google Calender event, or even send you an email if it’s supposed to rain tomorrow. Provided you’re using one of the 35 different services and webapps currently supported, you can cross-link and integrate them in almost anyway you see fit.

It strikes me as a good stab at what I wrote about in 2006. Pipelines for the web…

That was quite some time ago and I’ve been hoping Conduit would get worked on but things have gone very quiet on that front. Then came along, Ping.FM which was also interesting for slightly different reasons before they got aquired. So I was surprised when I learned about IFTT, so I gave it a try.

So my first pipe or task, useful so I can save links from anywhere just by sending a correctly formatted instant messenger to the right bot.

my first task

I made it into a recipe, then decided to checked out the pre-existing recipes other people have made.

Here’s some of the ones I’m finding interesting…

So right now I’m pretty impressed with iftt but I’m hoping they add even more services soon. Don’t get me wrong the list is pretty huge right now, but I’d like to have some things like NewstoBook, DeskSMS, Top10, Google plus, etc…

BarCampMediaCity the after thoughts

BarCampMediaCityUK

Its Monday evening and BarCampMediaCity is still deep in my thoughts for many reasons.

It was a classic BarCamp with lots of incredible talks mixed in with a feeling of something new was happening.

As we opened the door on BarCampMediaCity, people started to making there way into the Quay house space and were impressed by what they were seeing. Everything was running smoothly with security plus registration and people were slowly spreading out through the 5th floor complex. By the time of the welcome talk we had just under 200 people in the room.

BarCampMediaCity Welcome talk

BarCampMediaCity Welcome talk

The make up of the 200 was a mix of new and old faces, but what was remarkable was the percentage of woman. Compared to other BarCamps I’ve been to, this one ranks up there with the likes of BarCampLondon in gender equality maybe. Quite fitting that we had the geeks of London (the people now running barcamplondon) producing this barcamp. BarCampManchester have always been slanted towards male but with the help of the Geeks girls in residence, BBC hosting it and lots of thought from the barcamp team, the results were incredible.

Registration

Not only that, the age range of BarCampers incredible! I had only seen such a diverse age range at BarCampLiverpool, now thats something BarCampMediaCity certainly beats even BarCampLondon on…

We had roughly 225 confirmed for the BarCamp after the original waves of about 300 public tickets over all. On the day we had just over 200 people come along over the course of the weekend.

During the welcome talk one of the team jumped in with a clarification on the overnight stay. This caused a disturbance, with people wondering exactly what the situation was. This came back to bite in a major way later in the night.

The event shifted along well during the day as the sessions kicked off.

I thought I’d put in my talk early in the schedule, in the end I decided to bring up the paper I’m about to start reading titled piracy is the future of television. I used trakt.tv as example of whats possible when you look at what the cutting edge/darknet/early adopters are doing. It was a nice session but I picked the wrong space for a good talk. I should have picked one of the spaces with a more intimate feel. Anyway a nice discussion kicked off with the diverse crowd, which included content producers, artists, early adopters, etc.

There was a nice, chilled vibe throughout the event which was great. Everything seemed to be going to plan. The talks were all really interesting and so diverse which was excellent. I went to talks on dynamic Bayesian networks for working out real smiles vs fake smiles (something I’m sure BBC R&D will be interested in), How to rob a bank, evil overlord’s guide to security, The culture of the dj, the true dubstep, a demo of future iplayer development, how to get a job at the BBC, hacking the kinect, What you don’t know about American TV shows, would you take your clothes off in public, mixing cocktails, etc, etc…

Looking at the session wall

Another series of talks centred around inspiring the next generation into the tech sector. Computing in schools was a theme for sure with at least 3 different talks around the subject. The most surprising was the code lab one, which was presented as an BBC initiative. In that talk I turned and looked at Simon and gave him the look of, “what on earth, do you know about this?”  to which he replied with a blank look on his face saying… “I know nothing, do you?” By the end we had tweeted about it and it had been re-tweeted to death.

Should kids learn programming in school?

It turns out, but we didn’t know at the time, it was a proposal rather than a commissioned thing. It was a little cheeky but you got to hand it to Alan O’Donohoe who was behind it and brought some amazing cookies to BarCampMediaCity from the kitchen of the school he works at. Actually its maybe worth giving the school a little plug on Alan’s behalf, Our Lady’s Catholic High School in Preston

A packed out Code Lab session

Its actually worth noting most of the talks at BarCampMediaCity were amazing, its well worth going into some details about some of the better ones. Here’s my favorite ones…

How to Rob a Bank

How to rob a bank from Tim

I can’t explain how amazing this talk really was. Tim’s energy drives you through the different problems you would encounter if you were going to rob a bank. Want to know what the answer is? Well Tim points out that a large percentage of robberies are inside jobs, so getting a job at a bank is maybe a very good start.

A little known fact about US TV (or, Why you don’t exist)

What you don't know about American TV shows

Katie one of the girl geeks in residence, gave a great talk an area of Fandom which I had never really seen before. She put up the talk notes on our lanyrd page thankful, so you can read the notes there and check out this massive interlinked map.

Since American TV shows love doing crossover episodes, it becomes apparent that if St. Elsewhere and Homicide: Life on the Street both exist in the same TV universe, so do many other TV programs. Nerds on the internet have established a network of over 280 shows (and counting) which all coexist, implied by crossovers, cameos or references – and when we delve deeper, some interesting facts can be deduced…

Mixing Free Cocktails

How to mix tasty cocktails

Following one of the most famous BarCamp talks ever – How to mix the perfect Margarita at BarCampLondon3 by Andy Budd

Chris Garrett decided to bring cocktails to BarCamp. He even went as far as creating a special version of El Presidente and named it the Ian Forrester *blush*

If you want to make your own Ian Forrester, have a read of Chris’s blog post

This would be my go-to drink when I lived in Bristol and spent far too much time in Haus Bar. A heady brew of White Rum (double measure, preferably of Diplomatico’s very good blanco reserva), a measure of triple sec (or Cointreau depending on preference), a measure of Vermouth and a dash of grenadine. Stir (don’t shake) with ice, strain in a cocktail glass and sip, slowly

I actually forgot to take any Vermouth with me to BarCamp, so ended up using Slow Gin in the El Presidente. I added in a dash of Mint Bitters too, and thus the “Ian Forrester” was invented, named after the Presidente of BarCamp.

Would you strip naked in public if I asked you?

Would you take your clothes off in public for an art project

This session was one of the funnest I’d ever been to… It was a Art project by a guy who wanted to see if woman would take there clothes off in public if he asked them. Yes you heard me right… When I heard about it, I thought it was a wind up but the guy seemed deadly serious. Listening to him talk about the project, I instantly thought about the end sequence of A complete history of my sexual failings.

Things started to unravel when a lot of people asked many questions about his art project. The main line of questions seemed centre around what kind type of person does he ask? For example does he ask Men? does he ask older woman? etc, etc… He said he only asks woman who he found physically attractive…! I think everyone laughed out loud at that moment. His justification was even more funny, comparing taking pictures of beautiful objects and landscapes with only asking attractive woman. “You only take pictures of things you find attractive or beautiful…”

I honestly hadn’t laughed so much recently!

What is happiness talk

Happiness session

Its another one of those interesting talks which you would only get by running an open event like Barcamp. Alistair kicked it off and a whole bunch of theories were thrown around about helping people understand happiness but no conclusion was hit.

There was plenty of food but not a wasteful amount, everything which was put out was eaten and lunch, dinner, etc all went down well. Unforgeable I had to drive to a Chinese takeaway near Manchester to have dinner at 11pm because the curry had coconut in it and the veggie curry had chickpeas… I didn’t fancy eating even more carbs, specially if I was going to survive all night.

There was plenty to do for night time entertainment, including a massive gaming rig complete with xboxes and kinects. We had planned to set up the virtual maestro but with help from others, we still couldn’t get it to run correctly. Simon Lumb played a dj set in the cafe area, which set up the mood for the night. Unluckily I didn’t get a chance to play because I didn’t really have much chilled stuff and I had to make the trip out to the Chinese. Andy Mace, who was instrumental in helping us setup the Intenet connection for Will of Nexus Globalnet to setup the Wifi  on top of. And frankly the wifi was flawless all weekend once it was setup and running late Friday night.

BarCampMediaCity werewolf game

About 2330 we did an announcement to tell people who planned to stay late that the last tram will be leaving soon after midnight. What we should have done was made it clear what the situation was, and that might have been ending the event for the day.

Officially we could have people stay over if they don’t fall a sleep but unofficially if people fell a sleep security would give them a little nudge and ask them to have a coffee, redbull or go get some air. They would also have preferred people to stay together with active people, meaning people can keep an eye on each other, while they did close there eyes. Unforgettably this wasn’t communicated well and so a terrible rough night of trying to stay awake, finding hotels, sleeping on other peoples floors was had by about 30+ people.

I can say personally I am deeply sorry to everyone who had a terrible experience on the night, it was never meant to be that way and even I had brought my sleeping bag, indoor tent, change of clothes and towel to take advantage of the showers. I can’t put my finger on exactly what happened but its being taken very seriously and we are contacting everyone affected.

It did cast a shadow on a excellent event and I totally understand some of the questions people have been asking about the organisation of the barcamp. The Geeks of London are not to blame for this error of judgment, they delivered an excellent event, our job working as the hoster was to supply a canvas they could work on.

I always said the event will be a one time deal, I’m hoping next year Salford University become the hosters? But this is the end of my running barcamp experience. I had always wanted run one at the BBC and maybe 5 years of trying had warped my perception of risks and potential problems to the detriment of friends and participations. 5 years is a long time and like BBC Backstage maybe its that time…

Adrian and Mark

So looking back, at the event. I will always remember Sunday morning and seeing the tired, angry and disappointed looks on friends faces. But I also remember Lalita D’Cruze’s face when she saw herself on a internal BBC flyer and when she took to the stage to replace the hired comedian and did a excellent job. Turning to Nicola and saying “Wow she’s really really good!” Seeing Katie Steckles present the total inside baseball Fandom which goes into tracking references to other TV shows inside of TV shows, (didn’t write down the site!) Feeling very proud of the massive audience Matt from BBC R&D got to his talk on Saturday. Loosing one of my werewolf cards on Sunday morning only to later have Mick give me his entire werewolf set because he enjoyed barcampmediacity so much. Slightly nervous why we didn’t know about BBC Code lab, specially with all the work Ant Miller had done in this exact area?

I did enjoy the event even with the Sunday morning problems. It was a great event and serves as a great introduction for a lot of people into the BarCamp/Unconference field. If we got more people interested in BarCamps, then great stuff. Hopefully some of them will go to other Barcamps and tell there friends, maybe a couple will even consider setting up there own?

Without the great sponsors the event would never go ahead…

Bytemark BigV hosting platformOpen Labs at Liverpool John Moores UniversityIndigo clothing who supplied the Tshirts which I didn’t get before they were all gone, Techsmith who supply the excellent screen capture software Camtasia Studio and TEK systems a recruiter of tech people globally

BarCampMediaCity

Great event which will go down for its excellent talks, fantastic location, great atmosphere along with the lack of clear signs about staying over.

What happened to Dj Hackday?

On the cusp of BarCampMediaCity (next weekend) I’m trying to think about all the things which follow on afterwards.

One of the events coming along in the next 2 months is the Mozilla Media Festival which use to be the Mozilla Drumbeat Festival.

Things are still being sorted out but they got a great team of people including Michelle ThorneAlexandra Deschamps-Sonsino and Arran Ross-Paterson. Its happening in my old college Ravensbourne which moved to North Greenwich a few years ago.

I’m hoping to pull together a great team group of people from different companies to be involved in our dj hack challenge.

As mentioned before the best hacks, ideas, etc will go forward into use during the Future Everything 2012 festival.

I’ve emailed quite a few people with this rough description of the challenge and a link to my related presentation

Audio and Music making has gone a revolution, things like Ableton Live and Live Looping has brought new ways to create music. But Dj culture is still focused on 2 decks and a mixer. Next-generation DJ kit has not taken advantage of innovations in music making and has become stagnant. Dj culture has always been forward thinking, but has stalled in the internet era.

So far I’ve convinced, Soundcloud, Mixcloud, RjDj, etc to be involved… But what I’d really like is some more software and hardware makers.

I got talking to Dave a while ago and thought wouldn’t it be cool if we could get the guys behind Free and Open Mixxx software to come along. Of course Ableton would be a natural fit too. Both I’ve contacted… I’ve yet to contact Native Instruments, Virtual Dj, Serato, etc. Hardware wise it would be great to have Vestax, Pioneer, Technics, Numark, etc involved.

There’s also a thought about setting a VJ challenge to go along with the Dj challenge, but thats just thinking out loud via the guys at Future Everything.

Of course if you can help with any of these companies, please drop me a comment or email… Once BarCampMediaCity is over, I’ll be all over this challenge.

Kindle Array the answer to the large scale e-ink display?

First Rasterbation

I have been asking the question over and over in different circles, is there such a thing as a large scale eink display?

It seems the answer is no but I’m more interested why not?

Then yesterday while at lunch with a couple of colleagues in BBC R&D, Robert was asking me questions about my Kindle because he was considering buying one for his girlfriend and I was running through the advantages and disadvantages. Somewhere in the conversation, Andy mentioned my question about a large scale eink display (the advantage of being public again). I explained why I think it would be good and somewhere along the conversation one of us 3 suggested (think it was Andy) taking a Kindle apart and stitching them together.

I had quick thought, you could make an array of kindles and then control them to display what you want. My next thought was if you could tile post to the Kindles/eink display.

And that was it! An array of eink displays fed the right part of the whole document.

The advantage of a Amazon Kindle over a standard eink display is the wifi radio and email address, which means you can send each one a document remotely via something like rasterbator and if you can control them, you can remotely make them display a document as a screensaver. Later in the lab while eating cake (we seem to eat cake quite a bit on Fridays) I thought maybe this could be done via Arduino using the USB shield. Practically you would only need to root each Kindle using this method. Then by uploading a slightly different image to each one, you could create a tiled display or as I’m calling it a digital array.

Ultimately you want some software running on a Kindle which you upload the document/image to, it interrogatives its neighbours to work out how big the array its in is and only displays the part which makes sense. Because the Kindle is running gnu/linux, it would be possible but to be fair I’m not even going there, but if someone else wants to be my guest.

I’ll be hacking around with this concept in the near future, and welcome any thoughts or ideas on this idea.

Currently I’m just double checking if there is a large format eink display and trying to work out what is the best eink display to start with? The Wifi Kindle makes sense because its cheap enough, software hackable and easily hardware hackable. Although the Kindle DX does also look pretty good. I’m hoping for the Kindle Fire sale to start pretty soon, maybe.

My manager Adrian at work set me the challenge of putting our whereabouts system on the array or even the MCUK status updates. Right now, I’m going to just get two going then build on that… Hopefully there will be more details as and when it happens…

An update…

Of course I’ve been doing my research and it seems NEC created a A3 size eink display a while ago, it also seems I wasn’t the only one thing about turning them into tiles.

Additionally, e-paper modules can be used to form large screen displays by combining up to eight modules, which incorporate the company’s original multi-tiling controller. The A3 e-paper module is composed of especially narrow frames, with two sides measuring just 1mm, which enables the creation of large screens that feature effective multi-tiling

Also I noticed on the eink site… This recent picture…

2.4 meters certainly counts as a large eink display… So the question is how do we get our hands one and how much do they cost?

Well I’m looking at NEC, Neolux and  Motion Display if there listening…

See no evil bristol project

My parents (of all people) filled me in on this graffiti/street art project which took place in Bristol. Had no idea but good on Bristol Council for making this happen. I’m sure they must have seen the success from the Banksy versus Bristol Museum thing last year, and thought lets embrace it. It must be great for tourism and to be frank that street was pretty dire, so this is going to be a great new face lift.

Tags vs Circles for Friends

Gear Head

I’m in total limbo when it comes to Google and my friends

Google Plus delivered a new way to classify your friends (although it was first seen in diaspora’s aspects) but I was using Gmail’s Contacts with the tagging previously.

What this boils down to is Taxonomy vs Folksonomy and credit goes to Stowe Boyd, Thomas Wanderwal and others.

I’ve been thinking about the merits of both approaches and concluded that even if Google included the ability to have circles within circles, it wouldn’t be as flexible as a purely tagging/folksonomy based system. The problem seems to center around classifying friends and people full stop. Categories, Circles or rather Taxonomy’s are too ridged and forced. Which to be frank classifying your relationship with people isn’t.

I refer to this table

Taxonomy Folksonomy
Brittle Flexible
Accurate (if done well) Less reliable
Compliance must be forced Rewards but doesn’t force compliance
Hard to add to Easy to add to
Centrally controlled Democratically controlled
Predictable Organic

The attributes of Folksonomies sound a lot closer to the emergent nature of relationships than Taxonomies.

There is a question which remains however… What happens if Google do adopt Circles within Circles? Or even follow the Twitter lists way of doing things?

Hopefully Google will adopt their own Gmail folksonomy approach in the future, but it does looks very unlikely…?

Some interesting trends…

Internet Fundamentals

The ever lasting effect of the Internet on Television, or as I call it the TV post Internet.

See Eric Schmidt’s Edinburgh Festival Keynote which can be read in full on PaidContent.

Kids need licence to tinker

The concept and idea of a BBC Micro for the 21st Century, which some are saying could be the Raspberry Pi.

Been thinking about this stuff deeply recently for work and what I’ll be doing in the near future… You might be interested in some of the Top10′s I’ve been creating on top10.co

OK Cupid Locals (beta)

Okcupid locals

It wasn’t long ago that I removed the OKCupid application from my android phone because frankly it wasn’t all that and it was more like an extension of the website. But I was talking to my friend Nicola who I had been telling for a while to stop paying for online dating sites. In the past she has filled me in on the problems Guardian Soulmates was having post there redesign. But today she filled me in on OKCupid’s new beta application feature called Locals.

In actual fact Locals I’d heard about but hadn’t tried till she explained it.

Simply its Grindr for the OKCupid crowd… Sam Yagan (OKC founder) explains why its anti-grindr

So Grindr is obviously the most successful mobile dating app out there. The things that make it so successful—I’m going to terribly stereotype this community—but it’s larger used as a vehicle for short-term, physical relationships. Now it turns out, taking the stereotypical heterosexual case, that the vast majority of women don’t want that. In fact that’s what creeps them out the most about this. They’re worried about stalkers, they’re worried that it’s 10:30 at night on a Friday and you know someone at the bar next to you thinks you want to have sex with them.

How is OkCupid Locals different?

Number one, we’re populating Locals with the OkCupid database. Our entire reputation is built around the fact that we have this data-oriented way to understand people’s personalities. We can actually layer in compatibility. So now, when you make yourself available in Locals, it’s not just, “Oh, who are the people around me who are hot and horny at this moment.” It’s sliced by who are the people around me who are compatible with me. Instead of it being like everyone’s out there in this meat market, it’s more like I can say, “Who wants to go to karaoke.” You can post that not to just everyone in the West Village, but you can say: everyone in the Village who has a compatibility with me over 80 percent.

It sort of cleans the unwashed masses. It’s like, ohhhhh. You’ve been on OkCupid for a couple years, you know that people with high match percentages tend to be people that you could tolerate having a beer with. (Or not—there are creepy people everywhere in every compatibility index.) But in general we’ve got this sort of filter of the users, which I think is super valuable.

And I he’s right, you can just say something like I’m in X place for Y amount of time. Then set who you would like to see there (based on your OKC profile), so for example mine options is Girls who like guys and everybody.

The thing which makes me think this could be a success is the fact I was already doing this on twitter as such. For example I’d say, I’m in central London tonight, anyone fancy joining me for a meal or a drink. Because I have quite a few twitter followers I tend to always catch someone but now I can do the same and hopefully meet some real cool people who, who knows might be rather cute.

Locals really hits the head of what makes OKCupid so cool. One of the secrets of OKC is its social nature. Its more like a place to hangout, do quizes, talk to people, etc, etc. Dating is a massive part but I know people who just use to chat to people in passing, read there journals and fill out the weird and wonderful quizes. If they can get people to do locale too… then there on to a new massive success

I know most people will screw up there face at the notion of Locals but for someone as public as myself, its going to be a whole lot of fun…