Been using Tesco shopping service for about 7 years now?

I just read Jen's Groceries on demand post

Ever since the delivery guys mistakenly pressed our buzzer instead of the flat they needed, I’ve been intrigued with the idea of having groceries delivered. I had always thought such services were the domain of the physically challenged or wealthy.
Not that I need to whittle away at my scant reasons to leave the flat already, but I felt compelled to give the service a whirl. I have a Tesco ClubCard; I have a bank card. Tomorrow, I’ll have a kitchen full of groceries carried up two flights of stairs by cheerful delivery folk.

To be honest I love Tesco's Delivery service. The day I moved out of my parents house, I was getting Tesco to deliver my monthly shopping. It made sense, because having a 125cc scooter and a hectic lifestyle (college during the day and work in the cinema at night) there was no way I could find time to act like a zombie for a couple of hours, walking up and down the supermarket shelves. Then drag all the crap home without falling off my bike. Trust me I tried. It was painful. When I lived in Bromley, I use to drive over to Elmers End's 24 Hour Tesco at about 1am and do my shopping. A couple of times I could not carry it all and ended up going back and forth to get everything home. I hated it! So I opted to get everything delivered and would only pop into Tesco to get quick bits and bobs.

Even when me and Sarah got married and moved into our own place, the Tesco Delivery contunies. Sarah did spend a little bit of time getting use to stuff from this country by wondering around the local Tesco supermarket but in the end also opted for there online delivery. However now and then she will want to go shopping, for some unknown reason.

Shopping for me is just one of those life zapping things I could do without. I don't mind so much going and picking up a couple of things but any more than 10 items and I feel like my head will cave in. I think the problem lies with me working in Tesco for over a year while studying. I worked in the Tesco Cafe till they realised I was alergic to the cleaning material and moved me to check outs. On checks out I quickly made the move to night shift to better fit with my college hours. I mean at the time almost 7 pounds a hour to work from 10pm to 6am seemed like a good idea. I only had to work 2 days a week and earned enough to do all the stuff I wanted to do. But on the downside I learned to quickly hate the supermarkets bright lighting and depressive decor. Maybe its put me off for life? Sarah will tell any of you, I turn from a nice friendly guy into a moaning pain when I'm in a supermarket. Thank goodness for Tesco delivery.

I still remember when my manager was telling me about the new online shopping service which our store (Tesco Eastville, Bristol) was going to trial. I thought it was such a good idea and hoped to be the person picking the goods for the delivery but it was not to be. I also hoped it would be a huge hit and less people would come into the store. That obviously never happened. But it would certainly seem things have changed alot. At the time (maybe 1998) only Tesco was doing online home delivery. I think Watrose and Iceland followed a year later then Sainsburys. And to tell the truth Tesco's online offerings and service went from ok to great within a few years. They even offered a website and pocketpc application early on which I could browse on my ipaq. So I could look in the kitchen and simply add stuff without being tied to my desktop machine (didn't have a laptop or wifi at the time, only ipaq and gprs). And even now Tesco are doing little things to make the whole process even easier and enjoyable.

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Geek and Geekhag podcast number two – the wife acceptance factor

Me and Sarah's second podcast is now available online. Enjoy and please leave a comment if you've enjoyed it or simply hate it. The gist of the conversation is about me and Sarah talking about why we should get a Xbox 360 and LCD TV. And how the wife acceptance factor is important.

WAF is online speak meaning “Wife Acceptance Factor“. WAF represents the approval that the female in a stable couple has to bestow in order for a decision to be effectively adopted, typically when that decision refers to things in the domestic scope

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The next geekdinner will be with Paul Boag

Paul Boag

The next geekdinner will be next month on Thursday 23rd Feb and our guest for the night will be Paul Boag of the popular podcast Boagworld. The Boagworld podcast is aimed at those who are responsible for an organisation's website and would like practial advice on what they should or could be doing to improve the current site. Paul himself is a well established web designer usability/accessibility specialist and is a founder partner of Headscape which practice Webstandards when ever possible.

The venue has changed once again, this time were at the Polar Bear which is just a stone throw away from Leicester Square. The venue is larger than the one in Covent Garden, and a nicer cleaner deco. I'm also expecting the food will not run out like last time and at only 5 pound per head expect a more rounded buffet with food for vegetarians as well as meat eaters. There will also at long last be a PA system with Microphone for the guest and the Question and Answers session which follows. I'm also able to play what ever music I like at what ever level I like. So if anyones interested I can maybe put there ipod on shuffle mode and play it during the night at a low level.

As always expect a post on soon and its been listed on Eventful and Upcoming.

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First views on channel4’s IT Crowd

The IT Crowd

So the IT Crowd is now available online for people wanting to check it out. The official site is or you can download directly from Channel4 using this link. Slashdot has a overview of comments.

So my own view is that its not bad, its got some funny scenarios but I don't see how there going to keep it up for more than 6 episodes which would be fine. There's quite a lot of taking the piss out of geeks, nerds and IT staff generally but to be fair this also applies to the non IT Staff trying to use computers (like the boss who thinks his computer is now voice controlled). Its certainly more mainstream than I expected which in this show is actually a good thing because its very accessable, even if it reforces the very obvious stereotypes. The IT Crowd feels really British, I can see why it got a bad review generally. The laughter track seems like a typical shown to a audience affair rather than American canned. For those interested in watching it on TV, its on Friday on Channel4. Expect it to be bit torrented everywhere really soon. By the way, I'm currently downloading Beauty and the geeks which Sheila recommended.

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Google Using SVG

A few days ago Google released a series of statistics on the way in which HTML (and a few other things, such as HTTP and scripting) is used in the wild, wild Web. As in any good statistics report they have accompanying graphical charts. The interesting aspect in this instance is that those charts are available only in SVG.

You will need a recent version of either Firefox, Opera, an SVG-enabled Safari build or Konqueror to see them, apparently due to minor markup issues that prevent IE and/or ASV from working. It certainly is interesting to see a major web site such as Google use SVG for live Web content. SVG support moving away from plugins and into browsers does appear to have the effect of helping it edge its way into the mainstream.

I thought about this the other day when looking through the fantastic series of Google Statistics. Good to see SVG used by a huge company like Google. I mean it makes sense to put the graphs in SVG format, but its a calculated risk on Googles part. And looks to have paid off, because I've not seen many people make a fuss about not seeing the graphs. Actually looking around the web svg is really starting to become a reality for general web use. It reminds me to check out the Canvas element and HTML 5 which were both mentioned at the last geekdinner with Dave Shea.

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Should I wait even longer or buy a mobile now?

In my overdue quest to get a new mobile phone I've started to get closer to a decision. Basicly I can even wait for the new range of Nokia Nseries phones or get a Nokia 6280 in a few weeks or even get a Orange SPV M500 for free right now.

So before going into details, my ideal list in order for the phone I want to get next.

  • 3G/GPRS access
  • Bluetooth dialup
  • 2 megapix camera
  • Hot swappable SD or MiniSD support
  • Screen resoultion of 320×240 or over
  • Mpeg4 or 3GP Video recording
  • SVG tiny support
  • Java (MDIP2.0) support
  • Media playback
  • Bluetooth 2.0 support
  • Quadband support (GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz)
  • USB mass storage ability
  • FM radio
  • MMC support
  • EDGE support
  • 3G video calling support

So first up why not the SPV M500 now? I've always liked this device, since the first day I saw one my students with one about 2 years ago but… Well you see its got no 3G only GPRS access. Not even EDGE which would be useful when I go to America or parts of Europe. The problem seem to be that the PocketPC and Windows Mobile range seems to be lacking 3G(UMTS) because the American operators are obsessed with EVDO not UMTS. So there not making many devices which support 3G at this moment. Ok that aside, its runs on PocketPC like my HP Ipaq 5550 but on the positive side the form factor is small enough to fit nicely into my pocket. But then again its exactly like my Ipaq which makes having both a pointless idea. So, oh well say good bye to that mobile. Also for the same reasons, all the SPV range is not suited to me, as they have no 3g or are too much like my ipaq. I was thinking about getting the M500 and simply swapping my sim card in and out of the Sanyo S750 when I need 3G, but its not practical, so on with the next phone…

Nokia 6280

Next phone is the Nokia 6280. Now I saw this phone when I was browsing around the orange store the other day. And its pretty damm sweet. Most of the things I want are in place, even EDGE/USB2 and high rez screen support. Its odd because I only came across this phone because the sales people in MPC kept telling me that the Nokia N70 has a better screen resoultion than the Nokia 6880 which it does not! So why don't I buy this one? Well theres something about the Series 40 operating system which means it won't run Symbian applications. Which means I'll have to run only Java applications. This is ok, but I would like to have Opera and a decent Jabber client on my phone, instead of relying on my ipaq each time. Also this phone feels like a phone which looks like it will be eclipsed by the Nokia NSeries phones (N71, N80, N90, etc). People who read my blog regularly will know I love the Nokia N90 but can not justify the stupid price which it sells at. I've also been thinking its actually too heavy and I'm not a fan of flip phones. I actually prefer Slide phones like my Sanyo S750. What else puts me off the Nokia 6820? well video recording at QCIF resoultion and only to 3GP format not Mpeg4. Specially when you compare it to the Nokia N80.

Nokia N80

And I'm really warming to the N80 now, even more so that the N90. I mean it seems to have everything I need plus the price seems to be about the same as the Nokia 6280. So it should cost between 50-100 pounds on Orange when it finally comes out. Which looks like March now. However maybe its worth it for wireless on a phone. Certainly if Skype and Wifi become a real alternative as Ben suggests. Either way, the Wifi, universial plug n play (geez I hope you can easily turn it on and off) and the 3 megapix camera all seem to be future proof enough for me. I just need to wait or hope the SPV range adds 3G to its smaller range.

Interestingly Infosync has a run down of the top 5 Orange phones.

Why oh why is there no 3G on this new device? Oh yes I remember, because there only interested in a american audience. EVDO and EDGE versions but no 3G anywhere to be seen. Shame because I would instantly buy this phone. i-mate Jamin

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The Chronicles of Narnia… not the film

A very refreshing change to the usual mainstream rap. The Chronicles of Narnia Rap and its west coast response Narnia rap battle. Slate covers what makes this somewhat interesting. Saturday night live and race aside, rapping about everyday things is hardly new but I've never seen it like this before. I can imagine other videos will be coming online soon.

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BBC Persian filtered out of Iran, what can we do?

When ever the great firewall is mentioned, everyone thinks of China. Even I have to add myself to that list. Interestingly I read a blog on globalvoices (need to find link) which was talking about the fact that filtering happens all over the world and China just happens to be the most high profile one at the moment. One of the things eating up most of my time at work has been the new BBC China site. It has no news content on it at all and it does not link to any news content, which sets its self apart from most of the other 32 language sites we run. This should be acceptable enough to not trigger any alarms on the great firewall china has deployed.

The same certainly does not look true of Iran's firewall which seems to be simply filtering BBC Persian full stop. Hossein Derakhshan has a little about the filtering and i've find some other stuff online. But this is a subset from a much larger email which got sent around

Based on past procedures, the committee in charge of deciding which websites should be filtered has announced a list of sites to the ICT (Information Communication Technology) Ministry to have them blocked and the BBC's Persian news site is one of the sites.

I won't even try and attempt to stake a view on if this is good or bad. But I will say like China information has funny habit of getting around these things. Which leads me on to one of the most interesting moves we've made recently in the Syndication space.

Now for those who do not know I work for the BBC World Service and here comes a disclaimer (thanks Ben). The views stated on this site are mine and are not endorsed by the BBC World Service. Although I am a new media developer for the BBC World Service I am not paid, hoodwinked or coerced into boosting the BBC World Service on this website. Nor does this blog form any part of their marketing strategy. I'm a big fan of Full text syndication but understand why the mainstream media do not use it. So it gives me great pleasure to say that today the Persian feeds were modified to output more content than a little teaser today (the full list is available here). This is not full text, but not your usual one line affair. I have to say its still work in progress and could be changed at any time. But looks like one in a range of innovative solutions for people seeking well written and timely farsi (persian) news content around the world. I would urge anyone who uses the feeds to give us feedback positive and negative. As it might influence what happens in the near future for not only Persian feeds but maybe other language feeds?

Lets hope I still got a job when I go in tomorrow. Although I don't see why not when both the filtering news is online already and the RSS feeds are for public consumption. I won't be suprise if someones already blogged about the change but I've seen nothing yet. Saying that I don't read Farsi.

And at long last some coverage. Iran blocks BBC Persian website on Zeropaid and Boingboing. 2 days after writing this blog post I was worried about the fact I was writing about what we were doing in the BBC World Service about this block. Well besides almost fulltext RSS were now rolling out almost full text daily news email in Persian. So I would say (not the bbc'of course), there's multiple ways around this block. It will be interesting to see if the take up of the Persian RSS and Persian email news will dramaticly increase now there is a block. Humm I wonder if there is anything else we could/should be doing?

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London geekdinner with dave shea last night was fantastic

Dave Shea and Me at the Geekdinner

Ok this feels kind of weird talking about my own successes but honestly last nights geekdinner with dave shea was only one word. Yep, Fantastic! I could not have got a better more friendly crowd of geeks in a bar. Thank you to everyone who came along and made it a great success. I spoke to so many people and I can't remember everyones name. But it does not matter because Flickr will do the work for me. This women had the clever idea to get everyone to put up there pictures using the tag . You can also find pictures using londongeekdinner and geekdinner. If you're a flickr type you can also add your photos to the london geekdinner with shea group pool which I have setup.

Flickr tags go offline?

Ian has got some great pictures from the night and a pretty full transcript of the Question and Answers session with Dave Shea. I'm pretty amazed how fast he was able to put this up and that he got all the audience discussion too. Kudos to you Ian. I hope you don't mind that I stole your picture from the website but I did change the licence to Copyright (all rights reserved) and did give you attribution for such a great picture.

There were a couple of complaints but as Sheila and Jen said, Geeks may have the trait of being perfectionists. So the first thing was the venue. I forgot to say the geekdinner was actually upstairs in the crown and anchor, so thats my own fault. But although the venue was is a whole different class from the Hogs head, the space available was about the same. Sheila commented that my spacial awareness was pretty bad, which would be kind of consistent with what Sarah says too. So as you can guess we quickly ran out of room. I only honestly assumed about 50 people would turn up which is still an increase of about 20% from the last one I did with the simply amazing Molly. I counted with the help of the stickers which I ran out of really quickly (sorry to those who turned up late) exactly 68 people. And I noticed some people turned up really late, Dave Green included. So in total we may have had about 75 people but at one point we had 68 in a venue which should hold a maximum of 60. The bar staff did at one point ask me if I was expecting even more people? I have to say I lied. Because of the huge amount of people, my estimate for food to per head was off and I only got food by nicking it off other peoples plates. Someone told me there were sandwiches, spring rolls, etc. But I didn't see any of it. All I got was Chips and some nice sweet chilli sauce.

To be fair to everyone I have to explain what happened. I look at the signups on, eventful, dave sheas blog and upcoming. Then work out a rough number of people who are coming and take off about 10-12 people for last minute drop outs. I usually give the kitchen the numbers as late as possible, in this case last week Wednesday. And as luck would have it, a load of people signed up after Thursday night at the girlgeekdinner. Other things which people commented during the night. The one bar person when there was easily enough demand for two, to be fair this changed about 8pm but it was certainly easier to get a drink downstairs and bring it back up. The sound level was loud simply because there were so many people in a small venue, I think Jen Dixon said I was loosing my voice half way through the night. Was the food as good as the hogs head? someone asked. And lastly charging 6 pounds was a stupid idea (thats how much the food costs) because everyone gives me 10 or 5 pounds.

Ok end of complaints, generally I'm going to solve most of the problems by simply moving to a even better venue. Its called the polar bear and is located between Leicester Square and China town. It holds about 150 people max but I will never go for a event which holds more than 80 because it looses its personal and friendly touch when so many people are grouped into a room. Last night although being slighly cramp, the atmosphere was still friendly and fun.

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Enjoying last nights London Girl Geek Dinner

Geek Dinner

How would I describe the girl geekdinner> The right people in a fun friendly atmosphere. Shaking off the need to go huge Sarah Blow's London girl geekdinner is a great place for women geeks together and not feel the intense pressure of being the only women in a busy room with no one they know. Thursday's 3rd girl geekdinner was a sit down affair around a very long table but people moved around before and after the dinner which made it possible to talk to anyone. The amount of men at the dinner has seemed to have increased quite a bit since the last one (including myself of course). But talking to Sarah Blow she takes this as a positive sign that men are convincing there partners and friends that they should go along and also invite them. Which is a good thing because we all know geekdinners are a nice place to be and not scary at all. The hope is that maybe some of the women will feel the urge to try out other geekdinners, mobile mondays, London events, etc and girl geekdinner will be less needed in the future. Sheila suggested that she will be 93 before there is a balance of genders at events like a geekdinner, and I kind of agree but things are getting better everytime. Looking at the sign up list for the next geekdinner which is now only 4 days off, I'm seeing double figures for women geeks signing up. Maybe in a few months we can get closer to 20 percent? Who knows. Anyhow back to the dinner…

By the time I got there (say 1945) the main table was already pretty much full. We had to drag more tables to add towards the end of the main table, which gives you a idea of how many people turned up for the dinner. Right from the start there seemed to be quite a few guys which was suprising after browsing through the pictures of the last event. Sheila invited me along which I'm very thankful for when Sarah could not make it. So I for one certainly stuck to the rules. Not that I'm suggesting others didn't of course. Before long I noticed Ben and Sofia had also turned up which Ben never mentioned he was planning, and before you know its the end of the table was away. I can not even remember everyone who I spoke to but I know Imp must have slipped off into the night before I could catch her after dinner. Sorry getting ahead of myself again. So before you know it was time for dinner and honestly it was better that the scoble dinners. The texas embassy serves lets say not the greatest food I've tasted generally. But I was there for the conversation and people so was not disappointed. Just after dinner came the open mic section. I was interested in how this would work because I'm considering doing the same thing for months when I can not get a good guest for the geekdinners. You most of the time the most interesting people in the room are not the guests, no dis-respect to any of my guests but you know what I mean? and I will stop digging my hole now.

The open mic started with a bit of a lecture and moved to Bill Thompson who was OK and short. But the highlights were Sarah Blow and Jen Dixon. Jen Dixon I've been tracking recently after her comment asking if there would be a food which a vegetarian could eat at my geekdinner? I've still not got a solid answer but I'm hoping to speak to the chef today and get a final answer. Anyhow Jen is really interesting because her story is almost a match for Sarah's story. Its so weird because even Jen is from the same area in America. She met her husband whos from Wales (near Bristol) online via a webcam technology. And there's more which I'm sure to find out on Monday.

So generally, the london girl geekdinner was a great night and I would highly recommend it as any women's first steps into getting into the London geek scene. I know theres been a bit of talk about the different geekdinners but honestly I'm with Sarah on this one. I will keep the geekdinners I do small enough so you can talk to everyone in a relaxed setting. Its about the quality not the quantity of people. I'm also happy to help Sarah out with the girl geekdinners if shes ever stuck and I'm sure she would do the same.

I've uploaded my pictures in the usual place on Flickr, I'm sure others will do the same soon, till then here's a search which will get to the right photos

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Going nuts for certain tunes while paying 200 pounds for the privilage?

dj's de laptop

I just had a quick look at my audioscrobbler/last fm rss and noticed i'm listening to the same 3 tunes over and over again. Its not a mistake, its actually me loving these tunes which I stayed up to 2am searching for the other day. I've had them all of 2 days I believe and can not wait to do a mix with these new tunes. What are the tunes, you maybe asking?

  • FB Featuring Edun – Who's Knocking (Ferry Corsten Rmx)
  • Gabriel and Dresden feat. Molly – Tracking Treasure Down
  • Kosmas Epsilon – Innocent Thoughts


They've been on my list for quite some time but finally went actively searching for them on Trancetraffic and found them all there in 320kps Lame encoded Mp3 format. Mighty impressive quality and great tunes which could not be found on iTunes and

I simply will not buy music which is DRM'ed, practially Fairplay DRM (what a joke for a name) does not play on my ipaq, mobile phone and certainly not in my Dj application Virtual DJ. I mean why the heck would I buy music from the iTunes store and put up with the fact that I could not mix with it? Insane I tell you. So much for the mix in Apple's Rip Mix and Burn tagline from years ago.

Anyhow talking about Insanity, dance music and mixing. I saw this Digital DJs Unaware of Copyright Law on Slashdot recently.

The BBC reports that if you're a DJ, playing your digital copies of files off a laptop or mp3 player is illegal. The UK royalty collection agency, PPL, demands that such DJs pay £200 for a license in order to do so. From the article, 'Many DJs are still unwittingly breaking the law by playing unlicensed digital copies of tracks months after a new permit scheme began, the BBC has found. This includes legally-purchased downloads, which are normally licensed only for personal use, as well as copies of tracks from records or CDs.

What the heck? Geez this is the kind of thing I hear about in America not in the UK. Going through the comments it seems this headline grabbing story may not be all its craacked up to be. The first informative comment goes like this

I think the article summary is a touch misleading. My reading was that the public performance of songs whose copyright the DJ doesn't hold is what's illegal, and the £200 is for a licsence that remedies the situation. Nobody is telling anybody they can't play music on their laptops, and I'm sure the submitter didn't intend this, but I think it's important to point out that this only relates to public performance. Additionally, DJs do not need to pay the liscence if they are playing from CD or vinyl.

So this still applies to someone like me it would seem? I don't get it why because its digital I have to pay a license fee on top of all the music I'm playing on my laptop? As someone said, its a specific license tax on just those who utilize digital delivery systems. Some comments which sum up better than myself.

So a DJ can play a CD, but if she plays the same track ripped to an MP3, she has to pay an extra 200 pounds for a license? Where's the sense in that? The US compulsory license scheme actually seems sane by comparison.

Hey you thief, don't you dare be playing my tracks where lots of young impressionable kids will get to listen to them and then afterwards possibly go out to their local DJ shop and buy my records/CDs! Well unless you give me 200 big ones!

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The rise of geekery in all shapes and forms

Every time you download music god kills a kitten

Just posted to Slashdot and Digg is ZDnet's The essence of a Geek by Matthew Broersma.

A general rise in technical literacy driven by gadgets such as the iPod could be evidence that 'geekery' as a personality trait is becoming more pervasive.

You're right about that, geek is no longer a bad thing. It's actually a very good thing to admit now. I bought a range of Tshirts from Jinx recently and I get tons of comments on them. The one which seems to get the most comments is the no one reads my blog one. The most interesting thing is actually who I get the comments from. As you'd expect most of my friends just laugh but I get really nice comments from non geeky people. Its actually tempting to buy more because their really nice on the skin and a good laugh. I mean who would have thought, Not even norton can protect you tshirt would raise a laugh from a very senior manager at the BBC?

Anyhow back to the article, before I start talking about the amount of recent interest from non geek people about setting up their own blogs. Some choice quotes…

For a few years, an interest in computers and technology became inextricable linked with wealth and power – geek became chic. Technology companies suddenly became the focus of the kind of attention that had been reserved for the music or fashion industries. In the UK TV makers even went so far as to create a hip series, Attachments, based around the antics of a tech start-up

Funny you mention Attachments, I was just talking about in this post about Geek sitcoms.

IT industry analyst James Governor of RedMonk, claims that while it may not yet be cool or trendy to admit, a degree of technical sophistication has become expected. He claims that increasingly, “we're all geeks” – even if a lot of people don't care to admit it.

To illustrate his point, Governor recalls a recent conversation involving his wife and some of her friends – mostly women who would probably describe themselves as non-techies. One of the women pulled out a new Windows Mobile smartphone while protesting that she wasn't “a geek”. Governor then politely enquired whether she had her email sychronised to the device – she did. This then initiated a conversation about mobile phone design – the last thing the technical analyst was expecting given the company. “You expect to have that kind of conversation with guys, but not with women,” Governor says.

Although I'll leave the obvious sexual stereotypes alone for now (the women I know are equally geeky and I'm sure to meet even more at the girl geekdinner), James is right. It still makes me smile when I hear non self described geeks friends talk about their mobile phone and it's features in a way which would be frowned upon by their peers if it was about a car. Geez even my mother was giving it the big geeky one about her next washing machine over christmas.

A recent survey by the Sci-Fi channel discovered that an increasing number of women could be included in the ranks of a new demographic it nick-named “New Geek”. The research revealed that a third of the UK's total 6.9 million geeks were actually female. “Whereas once geeks were seen as solitary, embarrassing and uncool, the statistics show that New Geek is chic, popular and hugely influential,” the researchers claimed.

Enough said really! Hey and lets not forget that third is growing all the time. Don't forget the findings of this survey recently.

Somewhere along the line, geek also seems to have lost most of its negative connotations — unlike nerd and anorak, which still tend to be used as insults. The word's reclamation was probably a more or less deliberate effort on the part of geeky technology types who began using it to refer to themselves, say some. “It's a taking-back-the-language thing,” says Jez Higgins, a freelance developer.

To some degree “geek” overlaps with “hacker”, a word used as a badge of honour to mean a particularly adept programmer, though “hacker” has some extra moral implications that “geek” lacks. Most would agree that Bill Gates is a geek, but few would class him as a hacker, due to the perecieved quality of his company's technology and his taste for world domination. “He doesn't have the hacker's ethos,” Higgins says.

Indeed, one of the best things a culture/movement/community can do is take back a negative word. Its what black rappers and gay people did in the 90's. I'm not saying taking back geek is on the same level but it shows a certain maturity in the culture that it's able to do that. Hence things like Geekdinner, Geekcamp, etc. I'm a self described geek and have been caught saying that x is so geek recently. Instead of that x is so cool. Geeking out is another word which use to be quite negative and now has been reclaimed as something good. Even Geekhag is a concious thought that being a non geek but hanging aroudn with geeks is a good thing. I expect that word to circulate more, and remember my wife was always a self described geek hag.

This shift isn't a one-way street, however — we may be coming to resemble geeks a bit more, but through the growing importance of design, technology is also changing to be a bit more human. Strangely enough, many have found the emerging crop of digital video recorders, such as Sky+, far easier to use than the traditional VCR. Gadgets such as the iPod employ complex technology — it's even possible to install Linux on one — but they employ very simple interfaces.

The iPod's success was crowned at the end of last year with designer Jonathan Ive receiving a CBE, and many see such products as the direction geek culture will take next. A new crop of influential programmers, such as 37 Signals' David Heinemeier Hansson or Ubuntu Linux's Mark Shuttleworth, are not even particularly geeky.

“These kinds of people are where the next great successes are coming from, they're great designers and great coders, and also uber-communicators,” says Governor. “Great design is a way to create huge new markets, and that is a lesson IT is learning.”

And a good point to end on. Geek isn't limited to IT. I can argue that Dj's, Designers, Chef's, etc are some of the most geeky people I know. The fact remains that being smart and knowing your stuff is now a good thing. And honestly thats a good thing. I just hope it translates down the line to children in school who sometimes act dumb with their peers so they can fit in (unless they are very strong willed). Can you just imagine a school where not know your stuff will turn you into a outcast? Yeah I can't quite see it yet. But hey I can dream…

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Conferences I will not be attending this year

I will not be attending two of the choice conferences this year. Xtech 2006 and WWW2006 which both collide with my holiday to the states. Its a shame because both seem very promising but I'm hoping I can get involved virtually or something. But I'm kicking myself after hearing Paul Graham will be delivering a keynote at Xtech 06

One very exciting bit of news I have is that Paul Graham has agreed to deliver one of the keynote sessions at XTech. I'm very pleased about this, and it follows in the tradition we've established of having interesting and challenging speakers, rather than putting plenary sessions up for sale to sponsors.

I was also hoping to put a paper in for Xtech 2006 about the state of RSS when it comes to Languages but its pretty pointless if I cant be there to present it. Oh well, and just when I'm starting to make some progress with a proposed RSS and ATOM extension to declare language and directionality.

In a discussion on a mailing list – Stephen Deach from Adobe said the following.

Yes, you'll need to set direction at the block/paragraph-level to properly initialize the Unicode BiDi rule (and above paragraph if you have lists or other indention). It's probably fine to allow setting dir anyplace you set lang (which would include on span/inlines).

Felix Sasaki sent this wiki link which is really interesting in regards to Bidirectional text support.

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I watched brokeback mountain, and enjoyed it

Brokeback mountain

I'm sorry but any man who can not sit there in a cinema and watch Brokeback mountain and not feel something for the characters in the film, has no heart. I've been hearing people saying, oh no could not go to a movie about gay cowboys. Sorry you what? Who gives a rats ass! Quoting Alex from Diggnation. Its got like 1 min of man on man action out of 130+ minutes. And even if it had more, who would give a crap? I just can not understand the narrow mindedness of people who wouldn't even see a film simply because its got a few gay kisses and is about 2 men who actually love each other. I just dont see what the problem is. Actually tell a lie I do see where the problem is, its with little minded people. I mean do they think going to see a movie about 2 men who love each other will turn them gay or something? Do they think people coming out of the cinema will be flying rainbow flags? Geez, get a grip people.

Sexuality is not simply black and white, its a spectrum of grey like most things in life. Do not be put off by the fact this movie is nicknamed the gay cowboy movie. Its a good movie and full credit to Ang Lee for pulling off something which the ignorent few still can't get there head around. I mean come on this is what film is all about right, Storytelling? Just because I watched Crash does not mean I'm into the sexual thrills of car crashes. Just as watching American Psycho does not mean i'm interested in killing people. Storytelling can be powerful and open your eyes to a whole world which you've never seen or thought to deeply about. Take another film I watched on the weekend. Memoris of a Geisha. Really interesting and well told even if not true to the book on which its based. Real eye opener and made you realise how highly regarded Geisha's were. It really put another view on the usual story of abuse which these women recieved and lived with for beauty and some would say vanity. Yeah storytelling is good and should never stop short of some of the most alarming things we can imagine as long as there told in a way that does not alieniate the watcher. Another great example comes to mind. Lolita. Another conversial movie but only for its subject not its actual substance. Good movie by the way, really gets under your skin and makes you realise how dangerious love can be. Go see all the movies I've mentioned…

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