Geekdinner with David Teten on the 5th April

The next geekdinner is on the 5th April with David Teten. Lee Wilkins is the man hosting this time. I will just be attending as an interested geek. I don't know much about David but here's a bit from the geekdinner website (where I recommend you signup if your interested).

David is a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Nitron Advisors, an independent research firm which provides hedge funds, venture capitalists, and law firms with access to a network of frontline industry experts. He is also co-author of The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online, the first business book to how to use blogs, social network sites, and other “social software” to accelerate your sales, recruit star employees, or even find a new job. He blogs on the Circle of Experts Brain Food Blog and at TheVirtualHandshake blog.

It may not be for everyone, but don't worry I have plans a foot for another geekdinner around the end of April, maybe start of May. You will hear about it first here and the newly formed London Geekdinner's Group on Eventful. Don't worry Upcoming fans, Eventful has a nice way to send events to Upcoming, shame the reverse isn't true.

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Microformating ID

Doc Searls posted a entry about Jeremy Miller's MicroID proposal. Its a Microformat as such which allows anyone to claim verifiable ownership of content they generate. You simply hash a communication ID like a email and then hash a URI of where the content will be published. Then hash the two together to generate your unique MicroID. Don't worry theres a generator on the MicroID site.

MicroID = sha1_hex( sha1_hex( “” ) + sha1_hex( “” ) );

The important thing to remember is that MicroID is just a way to claim ownership not a authentication. Its also very simple to add anywhere. One of the examples is to put the MicroID in your meta, which I have just done. You can also stick the Microid in a div tag using the class attribute. I'm not so keen on this method, I think semanticly it would be better if it was attached in the id attribute. But I guess it would break if you had more than piece of content from the same author in the page.

I do like the idea of generating a MicroID for every comment which gets published to a blog. Maybe this is one for the Blojsom groups.

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Cooking for Geeks, Ctrl+Alt+Chicken

Ctrl Alt Chicken is a new form of cooking show… one in which the chefs don't know how to cook! In the first episode your hosts Alex Albrecht and Heather Stewart tackle all that is Chicken Cordon Bleu.

Honestly this is fantastic viewing. Its a couple of geeks trying to cook and getting it wrong. Not that I could have done much better but its really good to see Geek media breaking out of the usual genres. Can I also say its good to see a couple on geek media for once. I don't know if Alex and Heather are together or not but they make a good couple in the kitchen.

The really nice thing about Geek media and specially ctrl+alt+chicken is how simple it is to do. It kind of makes you want to do something simlar, or is it just me? Obviously me and Sarah have been doing our podcasts together for a while now, but I think there's some other things I want to try out too. I now have access to a camera and have had the editing ability for quite sometime. So look out for some videocasts in the near future. Oh and trust me its not going to be me peering down a lens, expect something a lot more interesting.

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Semanticly changing cubicgarden

This page is xhtml 1.1 valid

Its been all of about a week since I wrote anything. I've been quite busy but I've actually been working on this blog. I've changed the structured of the pages which does cause some problems with some of you using Internet Explorer but most of you are using the RSS/ATOM so its low on my list of changes. I've also finally sorted out most of the issues with why the site didn't validate. As you can see, it now validates. This won't always be the case, due to that well talked about entity problem in copy and pasted url's. I'm also going to try and use Microformats more than I have in the past. I've not dumped OPML for outlining but I like XOXO and am actively looking for a application which supports it for quick editing. In the past I was using JOE (java outline editor) which is great because it allows you to runs python scripts which can do many things. But its not had much updates as of late. So can anyone suggest a XOXO editor besides the javascript one. If not there are XSLs to convert between OPML and XOXO so I'm not that worried.

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BBC’s World have your say, hearts blogs

World have your say

Although this is work stuff, I can't help but say at long last the World Have Your Say team have got there blog and its now live. Yes I did have a hand in its path out of the BBC firewall and on to the internet. Now some of you may say well the BBC has had blogs for a long time now, so whats the big deal? And I somewhat agree, but except for a few good examples like Island blogging and the Urdu blog. IMHO, Our part in the blogosphere has been kind of hap-hazard. (my own words not the BBC). Without going into details or pointing fingers, its quite true that we've not really jumped into the pool. Or rather we have rarely engaged with what blogging is truely about. Yes we've done blogs but not really let it take us away. Some would say this is a good thing but I personally think there are some places where we could be doing this. Which leads me on to World Have Your Say. See Mark Sandell almost says it all in this one entry. But what Mark does not say Kevin _strange attractor_ Anderson says in his entry about the blog. A couple of quotes from Cluetrain comes to mind.

73: You're invited, but it's our world. Take your shoes off at the door. If you want to barter with us, get down off that camel!

This team gets it, they not only have decided to get rid of there traditonal BBC pages and presence. But there shoes are off and there starting to paddle in the pool, ready to jump right in.

I don't think its a bad thing to say that somethings had to be held back for the launch. These would include a blogroll, categories (was working on this today) and even trackbacks. But trust me keep an eye on the blog, because there's going to be some suprises which I simply can not mention here. Honestly I'm really excited about World have your say. Much more so that the Nick Robinson's blog, which launched in Dec 2005 to a lot of praise and cheers. Oh by the way Paul Mason's official BBC blog is worth checking out if your a Newsnight fan. I don't believe he's blogging anywhere else now?But I could be wrong.

Obviously this isn't the end of the blogs in the BBC, there is more to come. Its no secret that I'm working on the World Update blog which is written by Dan Damon. Dan is very fired up about his blog too and has also in the past been known to use Typepad to host his own personal or unoffical BBC blog. I feel he will also take a deep dive in the pool of the blogosphere and will be frankly honest about his experiences. I'm also looking forward to being able to subscribe to his blog and not have to read a stupidly long page.

So generally its a good day for the BBC and the Blogosphere. I'll be interested to hear what others think.

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Geek and Geekhag podcast number six – semantic what?

My and Sarah's sixth podcast is now available online. Enjoy and please leave a comment if you've enjoyed it or simply hate it.

This time we reflect on a few blog posts from me and Sarah's personal blogs. And I attempt to do a short introducation to the semantic web and tagging vs categories.

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Pledges and a Geekcamp update


My pledge's have failed. Actually they failed on the first of March but I've been so busy moving server to actually blog it. So I did really badly on one Pledge and the other one not so bad.

I will setup and run a geekdinner on new years 2006/07 but only if 100 other self described geeks will help out and/or commit to going to the geekdinner.

11 People signed up, 89 more people were needed.

So yeah this one is certainly not a goer. I might give it a another try in October or September when people might be thinking a lot more about christmas and new years. I only need about a few months to find a venue and get together a good group of geeks and special guests. Yes its much harder on the run up to Christmas but not impossible. So anyhow, keep an eye open for a new pledge after summer.

I will setup and help run a geekcamp somewhere in Europe but only if 30 other self described geeks will join me and/or help out.

13 People signed up, 17 more people were needed.

This pledge was much more interesting. There was tons of comments from people about geekcamp. Some came in comments on the pledge others through comments to me personally or emails. Someone told me, they frankly wouldn't ever go to a geekcamp unless it was in London. While Matt Biddulph wrote Sounds intriguing. Location is important – somewhere interesting and inspiring to take people out of context. Not England! The best geekcamp event I've been to was CCC (, which was in tents in a huge horse-paddock by a lake just outside East Berlin in 2003. My feeling was that it would be somewhere like Devon or Cornwall but I would have prefered somewhere tucked away in Spain or Holland. Someone suggested Brighton Beach as it has Wireless and would be mind blowing if we could get power somehow. This wasn't actually a bad idea and started thinking this could be done if we got a generator. But I don't think we will get the permission to do such a thing easily. Saying all that, on Bournemouth beach last year it was easy enough to have a full on beach party without too problem. But honestly I don't think sea and computers go together really well. But hey its maybe something we should at least try once.

Another issue came out of the comments, time. See in the UK we get about 5 weeks off a year and people don't like to take time off without there partners. So the idea of Geekcamp is maybe very difficult to justify to others. My first thought was to keep it down to a weekend but that limits how far the camp is. For example if it was in Spain, would you take a plane to go for 2 days? Cost a side, its still too short. Even Devon and Cornwall can take sometime if your going by Train or Coach. But then Sarah (my wife) suggested a long weekend might be better. So you go on the Saturday and it all starts on the night. Then it finishes on Monday morning which gives people time to get back before work on Tuesday.

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The censoring and blocking inside of Iran

BBC Persian blocked

I've been wanting to blog this for quite some time now. When we think of blocking and censorship, everyone goes on about China. Well theres many other nations which have levels of censorship and blocking. So it started with the blockage of BBC Persian content in Iran, then we started to syndicate more via public RSS and Email. Then Mario wrote a Instant messenger bot which takes BBC Persian RSS feeds and republishes them on the MSN network if you subscribe to the bot (just add to your buddy list). Then Mario added support for the Jabbber network (just add to your buddy list) and tried to get YIM (Yahoo) working, as thats the most popular Instant messenging tool in Iran. Now he's trying out JRS which is a publishing tool for the XMPP (jabber) network as the Perl Yahoo module is broken or/and out of date. Then Hoder (Hossein Derakhshan) gave a good talk about censorship in Iran to the BBC.

Some observations along the way. Although right to left text should be easy with most unicode complient instant messenging clients. This simply is not the case. The markup of right to left languages is still a very difficult thing to do. Dan Brickley send a good email into the W3C internationalisation core group. I keep meaning to respond myself, but still have a draft ready which I keep rewriting. I'm happy Martin Duerst and others have read my paper from Xtech 2005. But I would like a little more clarity on Martin's reply.

In Ian's article and in Mario's messages, there is also some extent of confusion with regards to bidi. If the text in a line or paragraph contains only rtl characters, or neutral characters such as punctuation, any application is supposed to display it in the correct order. No attributes are neccessary, except for where to start the line (flush left or flush right), which can be considered a matter of taste (in mixed English/Farsi text, I wouldn't consider having all English messages flush left and all Farsi messages flush right necessarily
always the best display) and which could be handled by a switch in the user agent.

It's only when a line or paragraph mixes both rtl and ltr text where having additional information becomes really necessary, to indicate whether the text is a (e.g.) Farsi sentence with some English embedded or the other way round (or even a more complicated structure).

See this is great in theory but the practice or reality Applications don't do this correctly. Its good to see I was correct about ATOM and RSS when it comes to language support.

It very clearly shows that more thought should go into supporting internationalization markup in all kinds of document or document-like (in the sense that they use free text rather than data items) formats.

The only blog format that got that right (sic!) from the start is Atom ( Elements such as title all allow for embedded XHTML markup, which then can take a dir attribute. RSS 1.0 has a content module that could do the same thing, but I'm not sure how well it is supported.

Certainly, its hardly supported in the RSS space. ATOM is the only one which had this from the start, so all the developers who build there readers have build in the ability to have markup inside of content module including directionality.

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Tim Berners-Lee Semantic web lecture

Tim Berners Lee in Oxford

After the mad panic trying to get the train up to Oxford due to the Trainline machine at work not working. We arrived at the Oxford University venue well before the start time and picked a great spot for the lecture. Tim Berners-Lee was good to see live, you could see he certainly was no Steve Jobs. He was more like Bill Gates, a little uneasy with public talking but happy to talk about his vision and his work towards that vision. That vision is the Semantic Web. Rather than me explain every aspect of the talk its best I point you towards Tim's S5 presentation, a webcast (coming soon), this blog and my notes. I've also added my photos from the lecture to Flickr.

So generally I'm even more sure that the semantic web is happening but within certain domains. Will the semantic web happen across the web, doubtful at best. Recent developments in web 2.0 have really pushed the web towards a more richer smeantic web but away from top down ontologies and rules.

Oh and believe it or not, me and Miles were quoted in the Newstatesman blog

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Geek and Geekhag podcast number five – Tesco too big for its boots?

My and Sarah's five podcasts now available online. Enjoy and please leave a comment if you've enjoyed it or simply hate it.

This time we talk about joint/partner websites, Sarah says sorry to Blojsom creator and how Tesco is becoming Walmart in the UK and it would seem trying to beat Walmart at its only game in America with Tesco Metro's (starbucks style?).

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My thoughts on the Microsoft Origami

Founder Origami

A friend of mine Birch, sent me a email.

I think this gizmo has a future because of its price point, wireless capability and mobility. i might even be sold on one. what do you think?

And my reply as I've only covered it not really put any of my thoughts down yet.

Honestly I think its too expensive. If they got it down to about 400-500 pounds it might start selling. Having a TabletPC already I know there good but not worth a extra 250 on top of a reasonable Laptop. If they did get the price down I would dump my HP Ipaq which runs PocketPC 2003. I would still keep my 12 inch Toshiba TabletPC because you can't beat a decent keyboard although my Bluetooth Keyboard isn't bad once its paired and running. But even 12 inches is too big for holding on a packed London train in the mornings. The 2.5 inch Ipaq is good but a little too small for playing video back. And don't even get me started on playing back H.264 content on a PocketPC! I'm sure its simply not possible. With a 7 inch Origami or other like device (ben), its going to be possible to playback h.264 with VLC without having to transcode the video first. Hey and its not just about watching and consuming. The Origami is going to be a great device for taking notes, recording audio and maybe even recording video has it has a Camera and USB2

Its generally a interesting device but I wouldn't give up my Laptop of it. But we can certainly say this could be the end of the road for PocketPC and PDA devices now. I mean the next phone I'm really interested in has everything my Ipaq has, so whats the point of having both I guess.

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Macmini, the perfect media centre for my living room?


It was odd, I usually find my views are usually much closer aligned with Doc Searls than Steve Gillmor. But during a short time period while this weeks Gillmor Gang, Dan Farber, Doc Searls, Mike Arrington and Dana Gardner start chatting about the Apple Minimac announcment earlier in the week. Well Doc and others were saying it was no good as a home entertainment box because it had no Tuner input, while Steve was saying screw that its got a network port what more do you need?

And you know what Steve is right on this one. IP delivery is where its at. Yes it nice to have a digital TV tuner card but that whole PVR time shifting thing is over rated in my view. (Saying that, if Bit torrent was to go away tomorrow I would run out and buy a Twin Tuner Freeview PVR straight away). I keep hearing about the huge leap from scheduled programming to time shifted, and it is. But its also equally a huge jump from time shifted to on demand. This is not new ground, many people are exploring the world of on demand already. For example I was out at Wiki Wednesday today and missed the UK Apprentice, but it does not matter because by the time I wake up tomorrow, it will be downloading without using any of my attention. And even if i wait a week or even a month I could still get that same episode somehow without too much searching. Thats on demand. No actually that's the 3rd era of so called broadcasting.

Anyhow back to the Mac, Front row's new features are no match for Xbox media centre but I'm sure they will get better over time. If not there always other options like the Xbox 360 (if you can get your hands one), Playstation 3 (if it comes out before 2007) or even a nice shuttle PC.

Lets have deeper look at what makes the Macmini a nice machine for my living room. Well first its now got a Intel Core Duo which means it should handle 1080i HDTV with AC3 surround sound without too much problem. Like I said although Front row is no Xbox Media Centre and a long way off Windows Media Centre. Its looks pretty good for that living room remote control domain. I really need to go into a Apple store and try it out sometime soon as its kind of hard to tell just from pictures. Optical out should mean 5.1 surround sound isn't that far off. Its got a DVI output and does not seem to contain that DRM standard HCDP which means we won't get that scary Windows Vista thing where it will switch off the video unless you have the licence. I don't believe the Xbox 360 has this, but its hard to tell till its been hacked.

However there are lots of disadvantages to using a Mac. The DVD drives tend to be region locked which will make my old DVD's from America a pain to play on this machine. The remote is simple but thats the problem, its too simplic. I'm use to doing things like queuing up a selection of podcasts and videos then let it run through-out the day, it doesn't seem like you can do that from that remote? On the sound front, the Mac does not have a dolby digital chip like the xboxes, so I'll have to say goodbye to the upscaling of Dolby Surround to Dolby Digital.

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Live clipboard from Microsoft

Before I've even had the chance to play with Microsoft's Simple Sharing Extensions, Ray Ozzie just shared a prototype they have been playing with internally. Its called Live Clipboard and basiclly is a clipboard for the semantic web.

Its a JavaScript-based solution which works in most browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox. It stores data on the page as actual xml data trees which can be copied and pasted without having to select the text content. Its a difficult concept to explain but luckly Ray's got tons of screencasts to show how it works. The interesting thing is that not only does Live clipboard work in the browser domain but also in the desktop domain. Thanks to 25hours a day for the Etech trip report, which alerted me to Live clipboard in my RSS reader today.

Honestly when I first read the post, I did think this would be perfect as a Firefox Extension or even Greasemonkey script but you would miss out on the desktop side of things. I'll be interested to know how flexable Live clipboard is. For example will it read all types of Microformats? How about FOAF and XFN? Humm, I wonder if you could do something between a Firefox extension and a Yahoo Widget?

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Desmonds, only available on Bit Torrent

One of the best features of Bit Torrent and UK nova is when it pulls up gems from TV's past. Someone posted up the first season of Desmonds which is a classic Channel4 TV programme from the late 80's. Its amazing to watch now and I can't believe I had all but forgot about it till last weekend. Sarah's having a hard time understanding the mixture of accents on the show but finds it funny watching me crack up. The poster wrote this about the posting.

It was as late as 1989 that a British sitcom which focussed on the life of a black British family finally became mainstream viewing. It was worth the wait. Desmond's was not tokenism: this was a funny and warm show, with a strong cast and all the traditional sitcom ingredients, but with a solid anchor in the lives of those it portrayed.

Unlike The Cosby Show (to which Desmond's is often compared), St Lucia-born writer Trix Worrell set the series in a working class area of South London's Peckham. Desmond and wife Shirley are first generation migrants from Guyana who have set up their own barber's shop. They live upstairs, along with two of their teenaged children, Sean and Gloria and spend their days serving customers and enjoying the company of the regulars, including Ram John Holder as Porkpie, Christopher Asante as eternal student Matthew and their BUPPY son, Michael.

Watch for a young Domonic Keating, who is introduced later in the first series, now famous for his role as Malcolm Reed in Star Trek – Enterprise. He wasn't particularly natural in Desmond's (and isn't in Enterprise either), but he does possess a lovely pair of cheekbones.

The show ended after the sixth series, with the untimely death of Norman Beaton. With quality writing and lovingly observed characters, you'll enjoy the warm, fuzzy glow that the show imparts.

What ever your view of Bit torrent, this has got to be seen a really good example of that long tail. So far its been downloaded almost 170 times and there are currently 44 seeders and about 3 leechers. Sharing Desmonds with a community of people means it will never be lost or locked up in a valut somewhere. Showing Sarah Desmonds was a interesting experience.But its also certainly something I would love to share with my kids when there old enough. And if CD/DVD doesn't pack up I should be able to still play back un-drm'ed media from 2006. If worst comes to worst and CD/DVD does pack up, I'm sure the 170+ people who have nabbed it will be happy to share it in the future.

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