Recovering from a great geek weekend

The scale of particiption at open data 2005

So after a couple of days I was finally able to get my notes together and email some of the people I met. was simply great this year. The line up was full of stars including Ted Nelson, Jeremy Zawodny and Danny O'Brien.

Ted was entertaining as usual but his projects including Transliterature have not moved on a whole lot. Generally the philosopher Ted in my mind is right about the problems with operating systems but the way he goes about it tends to be restrictive and confusing to say the least.

Xanadu alternative views

Ben Metcalfe was in his element at the official launch of (note the lack of beta now), which kicked off well except bbc news published the story a little too early which spoiled it for people like myself who read there aggregator before they went to opentech 05. Anyhow, Ben did a great job of presenting the competition and answering all the questions and even managed my tricky question around people from around the world using I did want to get the point over that isnt just a developer network, its also for designers who want to submit ideas, thoughts and even get involved.

Ben surrounded by backstagers

Jeremy Zawodny was very interesting and pointed out a couple of things.

  • The rumours about working on a Technorati killer, are true.
  • The aggregator will support Microformats and RSS Extensions, including some of Yahoo's rivals
  • Yahoo will be REALLY opening up more APIs. Zawodny failed or kept very quiet about the Konfabulator take over
  • Yahoo are counting RSS/Atom as a type of API not just as a syndication format

Yahoo! hearts BBC Creative Archive

I then stuck around for Hacking the TV Stream, where BBC R&D and BBCi staff showed off the biggest PVR (promiscuous video recorder), Dirac codec and how to hack Freeview /images/emoticons/laugh.gifVB) broadcast streams. I didnt know how easy it was to do and it came to my suprise that the BBC is encoraging people to do this under a backstage non-commercial type licence. There was also some reference to UKNova in one of the presentations, which I keep meaning to send to the UK nova members. Yes the BBC are fully aware of Uknova, and the people at Opentech had a good laugh when it was mentioned.

Uknova slide

Some of the other highlights included, Tom Reynolds who now seems to be turning into one of those A class british bloggers. Don Young from Amazon services, who talked about all the APIs and services Amazon is opening. Lee Bryant's Collaborative Archives which trigger a whole load of thoughts about how this could/should work across languages. And the Greasemonkey presentations by Simon Willison and Rob McKinnon who I later talked to at a indian resturant about a number of things including Ruby, SVG, Cocoon, Python, American Poltics, Media and many more things. I also have to say Nicola Smyth and her partner were also good company to our quite geeky conversation. Its just so rare to meet some so into SVG as myself.
Talking of which, I finally met Matt Webb, Ben Hammersley, the NTK guys and many more. Its a shame I missed the discussion on where the British EFF was? Cory Doctorow filled me on the main point after the discussion while the afternoon break was on but I cant wait to see the videos of the debate. It also made its way on to slashdot.

I still cant believe the whole event only costs 5 pounds, I would have happily paid 20 plus pounds for such a event. Talking of which, geekdinner prices are getting really silly now. 20 pounds for some cheap nibbles, loud music and no drinks. Yes the company is great, but we could all just meetup somewhere free and talk around a pub table. I'm just thankful Ben came up with the idea of poping down to tesco and getting a ready meal before hand. really needs to slum it for a bit otherwise people will get pissed off and stop going. Its not even like the orginser is making any money. Its all going to the venue owner, and in that case I would rather spend my money else where not give it to some stuck-up Picadilly bar where a cranberry juice costs 2 pounds something.

Overall, it was an enjoyable weekend except the rain which soaked me when riding between opentech and the resturant which I couldnt find for over an hour! Hope to see everyone next year. As usual there are photos on flickr and tons of talk around the blogsphere

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donnie darko in the park

Donnie darko and others in he cinema

Donnie Darko in the Park: Saturday 6th August at the Royal kensington gardens, London

Donnie Darko, one of the best films of 2004 in my own view. Has been given a new lease of life in the form of a one off outdoor cinema complete with the national symphony orchestra and orginal composer (Michael Andrews). It all takes place in the royal kensington gardens and looks to be a fantastic event for donnie darko film lovers, such as myself. You can book tickets onn the Stella Artois website, which is some nasty piece of flash, so you need to search for it a bit – look under screen events. Whole thing only costs 5 pounds and takes place on the 6th August between 6pm and 11:30pm.

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Dont panic, london on alert once again…

Police on the streets
3 blasts on the tube and 1 on a bus, yes its certainly sounds like a copy cat of two thursdays ago (7/7). This time no one is hurt and someone has been arrested. Londoners react with the usual groan and not again. But then again, maybe its a chance to go home early? The war of terror is still a thought in the back of peoples minds. Lets hope tomorrow brings a better day…

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Geeky weekend offline

Well it looks like my weekend is almost full up already. On Thursday (remember Thursday is meant to be the new Friday or something?) I got the Ravensbourne degree show private view, which sounds like its shaping up well into something maybe a little different this year.

Then I got a Jeremy Zawodny double bill, first one for BBC staff in White City then the second one as a special mid month Geek Dinner. Great work to Ben for arrange this one at short notice. Then on Saturday (could be argued, the first day of the weekend) Open Tech 2005 in west London. I expect there will be another meal afterwards and lots of drinking and chatting like last years notcon04.

Sunday will certainly this weekend be a day of rest, or riding the scooter depending on the weather.

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New link blog coming soon…

Just a quick note that I'm attepting to keep a small link blog of things I read, listen to or watch which gives me a little inspiration. The blog is simply called inspiration and will be more of a challenge in my process of blogging that anything else. Ideally I would just mark something as good enough for the link blog that loading up a blogging app and blogging it. I'm sure this is very possible with something like Automator for OSX 10.4 but on windows without knowing VB? Maybe not…

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Is it time for the mainstream to get Torrent TV?

Bit torrent

PBS Launches NerdTV, the First Downloadable Web-Exclusive Series From a Major Broadcaster.

I'm unsure if the last part is true but its a brave and good move by PBS. Although I have to say its about time a major broadcaster started really taking advantage of downloadable video. There was no mention of using bit torrent for distribution which is a shame when you consider the amount of the NerdTV target users use it and with this recent announcement from Opera about there bit torrent support. Its also used by quite a few podcasters and the new range IPTV programmers (cant think of a better name). From the shadows, Systm by Kevin Rose and of course The Scene by Jun Group entertainment are a few which come to mind.

For a public broadcaster like PBS, NerdTV certainly makes a lot of sense but for the commercal enterprises, IPTV sounds like a nightmare. Those which strike the balance between the audience demands and there own stand a fair chance. I found this quote on the fromtheshadows forums.
There is no competition for air time, no time slots, and no commercials.

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Note taking and outlining

I thought I had it covered. Joe on the TabletPC and Pocket Thinker on the ipaq, both support OPML naively but pocketthinker does not import OPML from Joe. So I'm back to the start with note taking.

I'm seriously douhting if OPML is the right thing for the task. Uche goes one step futher and suggests XML formats for outlining are complete rubbish. Danny Ayers also gets the boot in on OPML. Honestly he has a point but offers up a couple of others which I had not looked into before. OPL in reaction to the ugliness of OPML. Looking at the spec, I'm not sure it goes quite far enough. XBEL on the other hand looks too wildly different but useful for outlining. Uche also did a follow where he reviews. I like the idea of XoXo but prefer the idea of using XHTML or RDF which is easily parsed and integreated into other processes.

Then I found Wikipad… and had high hopes for a pocketpc version like this palm version or even this mobile phone type version. Wikipad doesn't have the name of something like Voodoopad but it certainly does do a good job of notetaking for now…

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First few days using the bluetooth keyboard

small size bluetooth keyboard

So at long last I got it and have used it quite a bit. But I really got to try it out at a political blogging lecture I attended just recently. The complains I heard from other users about the keyboard timing out after a minute or even less didnt seem to happen to me. Generally my ipaq would turn off before the keyboard would. It is a bit of a pain having to reconnect when the ipaq has switched off but even that only takes 2secs and only requires you to press a key. None of that bluetooth bonding each time, which was a relief to discover.
I was not able to bond my 3G Phone with the keyboard of course but unexpectly my tablet would not pair with the keyboard. After a browse through the Stowaway forums and Microsofts FAQs, it seems the Toshiba bluetooth drivers are utter crap and they dont support the HID profile along with others like the Audio profiles. So I attempted to remove the toshiba bluetooth drivers and force the service pack 2 ones into action. However its going to take more work as none of them working now.

Generally the Bluetooth keyboard is pretty great and I highly recommend it. I just cant wait to make proper use of the keyboard when at a conference or decent lecture. My thoughts of using the bluetooth keyboard as a interface for most of my machines may have been a little forward thinking on my part. Oh well at least I'm half way there.

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Harry Potter madness starts today?

Tesco struggle to keep up with the demand
I went down to my local Tesco for some quick midnight shopping and ended up snapping some pictures of the chaos which was named Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I believe about 100 people turned up and queue just to get there hands on the either of the two versions (well different jacket designs) which were published and released today. I have no problem with this kinda of crazyness, I have queued to be first on a few things in my past but why any parent would drag there kids along at midnight is beyond me.

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Trackbacks [0] provides information about open source projects from the BBC. It lists projects developed by the BBC where the source code has been released as open source.

For the BBC, open source software development is an extension of our Public Service remit. Releasing open source software helps our audience get additional value from the work they've funded, and also get tools for free that they couldn't get any other way. It also allows people outside the BBC to extend projects in such a way that may in future be used in the BBC.

Well, and the creative archive now include to the amazing line up…

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Mark just does not get it, why big media is in trouble

First a quote from Mark,

Just because you can do desktop publishing on your laser printer doesn’t mean you’re going to replace the local newspaper.

I was almost going to scream after hearing the above and lots more just a moment ago. I'm seriously suprised Rob Greenlee didnt ring the “what on earth are you on” alarm. Has Mark Ramsey never heard of concepts like the longtail, emergence, community cooperation and open source? Rightly so, the correct answer to the statement was – dont bet on it!

Luckly Doug broke his silence in his usual news update and expressed the fact that “Mark doesn’t get it!

Its also nicely covered here if you don’t want to hear two lots of podcasts in one go.

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Whats the future of Blogmatrix Jaeger?

I recently sent the guys at blogmatrix a email asking whats going to happen to Jaeger in the light of Sparks! I use Jaeger everyday because it pretty much does what I really need a RSS reader to do. It stays out of the way of my browsing and allows me to glance over many feeds (almost 250 now) very quickly while working away. Its not perfect however, there are bugs like the sync bug which ignores your proxy server settings. So I cant sync my work machine with my laptop and home machine. There are also lots of little things I would love to add if I was a python hacker, like more search engines, send via email (generates a email with the link, title and small description already written), post to blog or and output xml/rss. I'm almost able to hack this together myself except its a XML or XHTML only affair. There seems to be no way to have both. The templates are luckly velocity templates but there seems to be no way to specify other templates Jaeger should server up. On that same vein, I'm not able to get Jaeger to serve up HTML outside of the local machine. Not sure if this a constraint, bug or something I'm doing wrong. Anyhow, here's the email, I'll be interested in what others feel.

Hi David and others,

Quite a while ago I wrote in regards to Jaeger support and what's going to happen to it? I just wanted to ask again, with all the support and push for Sparks, I'm wondering if Jaeger would ever make it to a version 2? I understand the development and time constraints attached to having 2 products Jaeger and sparks.

Dont get me wrong, I like Sparks! But its well over kill for myself, there are also some things which have been lost in the transformation.

* Single Panel (works with my standard browser)
* Offline/bulk reading seems better in Jaeger
* Synchronization! (This is a lifesaver when working with 3 Jaegers clients, I even got my pocket pc rss client to read the stored OPML every week now!)
* Universal Search Engine (I'm actually hacking around with Python to add support for A9 and others)

If Sparks had all these I would upgrade, but it strikes me that Jaeger and Sparks are different products and thats a good thing. So in light of this and the development effort, I wonder if you had ever considered,

* Open sourcing Jaeger or making it more open at least (if I was a python programmer I would love to re-engineer Jaeger, right now my XHTML+CSS templates are custom to my preferences which is the best I can currently do. But I had thought about hacking Jaeger into outputting XML which I could then transform into a Konfabulator widget, screensaver or something else)
* Releasing a version without the licence nag? (Now sparks is free, shouldnt Jaeger be too? I believe you were charging $30 per client for Jaeger a while ago?)
* Make a donate Jaeger version (I would be happy to donate to Jaeger but not pay $30 for each version of Jaeger I install on my many machines)

Anyway, I hope you understand this isn't an attack of Blogmatrix, I personally think Jaeger is great and still beats some of the mature rss readers like blogbridge, feeddemon, etc. But I'm left pondering what future it has everytime I get the licence nag. Plus there are bugs in Jaeger which seem to be fixed in Sparks but I'm unsure there ever make it to Jaeger ever

I recieved a email from David Janes from Blogmatrix after a couple of hours.

Hi Ian,

The source code for Jaeger is available on sourceforge, if you'd like to
play with it. I'd be more than willing to offer help as time allows.
FYI: Our llicense agreement says it can't be rereleased without the nag

So it looks like Jaeger will be supported but its going to take lots of time and resources from the blogmatrix guys, till then I'm hoping some open souce developers pick it up and do some interesting things with the code. Yep a little lazyweb but hey theres nothing wrong with that.

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