The BBC 2.0, just got slashdotted

Its been a while now but Novus Ordo just submitted to Slashdot On The BBC 2.0. Its only gone up about a hour ago but its already recieved 80 comments. Quite a few sink into the usual BBC bias and BBC World vs BBC arguements. But there's a interesting related question about Slashdot's CSS redesign content and the BBC's contest. Lots of moaning about the fact you can't actually download or stream any clips or movies from the catalogue in a thread called great resource but incomplete.

On the plus side I caught ths comment by Lobais.

A thing I really think they should do 'to keep the BBC relevant in the digital age.' is to make xmltvfiles of all their tv and radio programme info. This would make them very useful for a lot of people, and sure wouldn't be very hard.

Although this only recieved a +1 and insightful mark, its easy to forget about the simple things we could be doing more of. Although there is a arguement that the Programme catalogues is just that. Plus as Pldms pointed out, we provide 7 day listings for all channels in TV anytime XML format.

A comment which I couldn't help but agree with was this one by Larry Lightbulb.

The first and possibly only thing they should change about the BBC home page is the fact that it's designed to be viewed at a resolution of 800×600. Surely a company as big as the BBC is capable of producing a web site that utilizes all of the screen space available in a browser window?

See I tend to strongly agree with this but I understand the reasons why its sticking to a 800 format. Personally I don't think there's any excuse for a 800 format when your using XHTML+CSS (unless thats the desired effect). So when we move in that direction I would like to see the 800 constrait dropped.

I'll be keeping a eye on the incoming comments…

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Eventful events turned into signs with xsl

How my posters turned out after printing

Its so funny, I tend to shy away from printed media. But I can see the value in some printed content. So anyway this is the result of my XSL which simply takes an Eventful ATOM feed and transforms it into simple XHTML+CSS for printing (next stage would be PDF). Here it is if you would like to do the same before Monday. Please bear in mind this works with ANY eventful event, as long as you take the id of the event and add it to the end of this url –{eventful id}. Here's a couple more for the hell of it.

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Rebooting the BBC home page

Reboot top logo
Reboot bottom logo

Help us discover what 2.0 looks like.
We don't just want you to redesign the homepage, we want you take it all the way back to the drawing board…
Throw out the existing content, throw out the existing focus, throw out the existing expectations, limitations and assumptions – and help

So here is your chance to reinvent the home/portal/aggregator site. There are some great prizes available to the winner and runner-ups. Now I know there's been lots of talk about the rip off issue, which Ben has covered really well here in an entry titled we want to reboot not rip-off!. Here's one of the quotes.

…why not have “redesign the Ten O'Clock News” or “redesign The Archers” competitions. Or you could do all this yourselves, which is what I'm paying you over a hundred quid a year for.

But Ben Metcalfe returns with a fantastic comment which I feel sums it up nicely.

But not only does that not seem right, but that's not a BBC approach. Auntie doesn't always know best.

And thats where things get tricky I guess. Being a BBC employee, you would instantly think I would rush to the help of the BBC. But honestly I think the BBC is trying to really open up. Reboot is a way to encorage not only developers but anyone who has had that thought, why isn't the bbc website like this? Well here's a chance to put that thought in to action. And yes, thats my thought, not the BBC's.

On the plus side Martin Belam has showed his thinking behind the clean Google like BBC home page. I've also confirmed with Ben that reboot is open to everyone living outside the UK. So what you all waiting for? I have some ideas but there maybe a little too radical and niche to win a prize. Something to maybe inspire your thinking? Well how about the newly launched BBC Programme Catalogue prototype?

At only just shy of 1million BBC Radio and TV programmes over 75 years its pretty amazing to browse around. And don't forget every single part has RDF and ATOM data which can be easily used as part of a Mashup or something else. Pretty impressive stuff you must agree? Now back to rebooting…

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Your network now available in

Your network in delicious

Just spotted the your network option in Nice idea, would like to do the same in Flickr. So heading over to the blog, I found a recent entry.

To make sharing easier, weve just released a new feature called your network. You can add other users to your network either by visiting their pages or from the your network page itself. Once someone is in your network, you can keep track of their latest saved public bookmarks. And when you save new bookmarks you can easily share them with people in your network just by clicking on their username.

In Flickr there is the ability to send pictures to a set of pictures but not to a group or person. Once you've uploaded it you can then send it to a group. But the nice thing about the delicious way, is that its using Tags instead of some other thing.

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Digital Assassins and the BBC changes

So once again under one of those should I be talking about BBC (work) on my personal blog type questions. I can't help but talk about the things which happened yesterday (Tuesday 25th April) at the BBC. The Guardian calls it a radical revamp of the site, but internally it was known as the Creative future or how the BBC is going to address the challenges of the on demand world? It seemed to be pushed as a launch but actually it was more like just a event to publise audience research and the thinking which has gone into how we should be moving forward. I have no problem with this, but I can see how people got confused or even frustrated with the lack of a solid plan. Not that I'm saying there is no plan.

In my mind, it seemed to be saying, we know were going in this direction but we honestly do not know what the future holds, so we need to be very flexable to changes. I'm sure the Cluetrain something like this too.To me itts the BBC way of saying change is the only constant. There also seems to be a true commitment to onlline as our future and the push to open up the BBC is being taken very seriously now. Metadata was also mention highly and I'm really happy this has been communicated from high. Now this makes metadata authoring a even more valuable piece of time in our journalistic practice. I picked up on this quote from Mark Thompson and wrote it down.

The BBC should no longer think of itself as a public broadcaster of TV and radio and some newmedia on the side. We should aim to deliver public service content to our audiences in what ever media and on whatever device makes sense for them

On a different but actually realted topic, the we media conference rolls into London for the first time in May. The conference attracts people from all the leading online publishing houses including the new york times, washington post, bbc, retuers, etc. Its a high cost ticket affair which someone like myself couldn't even imagine affording on my current BBC salary. But I do have the chance to spend the afternoon with some of these publishing heads in a session called meet the digital assassins.

As part of this session I have been asked to document a week worth of media consumption. So far this is what I've drafted

The first thing I do when getting up in the mornings, is play the daily 15min podcast Slashdot review. This usually lasts the time i'm in the shower and gives me a great overview of what's going on. I'm using a simple FM transmitter on my workstation which means I simply have a cheap shower radio tuned in on the right frequency.
In the hour it takes to get ready and eat breakfast, etc. I tend to leave iTunes playing in most recently added order. Like the cheap shower radio, the radio downstairs in the kitchen also plays whatever iTunes is playing. I've never known a time when I've switched over to a Traditional radio station in the morning or evening.

My home workstation automaticly downloads, podcasts, video, everything. It then syncs the latest content with my laptop and I manually copy stuff to my mobile phone's flash card.

Every work day on the train for my 30min journey from Woolwich to Charing Cross, I have my laptop out reading through my general news and blogs category in my RSS reader (GreatNews). I mark anything which needs more of my attention “to be read later” or “to be read sometime in the future.” Recently I've been blogging on the train more than reading.
At the same time, during the in total hour journey, I have my mobile phone playing podcasts or once in a while video content if I have to take the tube to White City.

During lunch times I turn to my laptop and either blog, read more news from all the other categories or watch one of the main videocasts which are freely available. These include Rocketboom, MobuzzTV, DLTV, Diggnation, etc.

I find my offline social network usually fills me in on anything I've missed, and I can usually catch up by downloading it the day after. The only newspaper type thing I pick up and flick through is the Ariel (internal BBC paper) while making Tea.

The train ride home gives me equal time to read through feeds and I usually try and go a little later so I can get a seat and sit with my laptop on my lap and read. If not I have a RSS reader on my pocketpc and mobile phone. But I miss being able to tag content/entries with these devices.
When at home, me and my wife usually settle down and watch something via our modified xbox while eating dinner. The content viewed is a real mixture of publicly available video, downloads of states programmes and globally available content from the web. It all comes to me over my broadband connection, and is the reason why I don't own a PVR or DVR.
UK nova is well known about and I guess highly watched by UK broadcasters but the service they provide is simply fantastic and fits with the way I and my wife consume and engage with video content.

The video content is a real mix of mainstream content like Lost, Daily Show, Simpsons, etc, and content from the net (such as Hak.5, CommandN, etc) mixed in. We tend to just pick and choose depending on our moods.

On the weekends, if were in and doing things around the house. We tend to stick on a playlist of podcasts. My Subscriptions includes the simply amazing IT Conversations, Engadget, Security now, This week in Tech, Digital Planet, etc.

And I guess, thats my usual week.

Pretty weird to some I guess, but thats pretty much my week.

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Technorati blocked in China?

Chinese censorship at work?

Mario dropped me a skype just a moment ago, the skype was this gem of a blog post titled China blocks Technorati.

I received an email this morning from Ken Carroll of ChinesePod telling me that China has blocked Technorati at the great firewall – it would appear that Technorati will no longer be available to anyone to use in China.

And its starting to kick up a stink over at Technorati and Mad about Shanghai. To be honest I'm not suprised. Technorati is one of the biggest blog search engines and was a gateway to all types of views and opinons from around the world. This simply won't do if your a chinese authority attepting to censor what your citizens are viewing online. Obviously I think this censorship is not a good idea and there simply causing there citizens to look a little deeper for the content they actually want to read just like the iran censorship of

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SPV E600 came yesterday, thanks Orange

Like Orange promised, the SPV E600 did come on Monday and I'm now a proud owner of one of the best little mobile phones you can get at the moment.

Poil asked for a list of my installed applications, well here you go.

  • PocketRSS 2.x (RSS reader)
  • iMov Messenger (jabber)
  • Minimo 0.14 alpha (WWW Browser)
  • Dynamo 2 (task switcher) – might remove this
  • Keypass (password keeper)
  • Betaplayer (video player)
  • Agile Messenger (jabber) – can't get it connecting over xmpp at the moment
  • VNC viewer (vnc)
  • Wififofum 2.2 (wireless scanner)
  • Wifi Tunes 0.4 (itunes browser)
  • GSPlayer 2.x (music player)

My only gripes so far have been the power button which allows you to put the M600 in standby mode as well as power off. Standby mode also stops any music which you may have been playing. Its not a big issue because GSplayer and even windows media player 10 have display off options. Another beef is the Today screen which has been hijacked by Orange for there weird menu thing. Oh and one last thing, my Bluetooth Keyboard doesn't have drivers for Windows mobile 5, so it fails to work at the moment. Otherwise I'm totally happy. Simple things like the ability to automaticly restart music after a phone call is great. You can check out all my SPV M600 pictures here. Thanks again Orange, hopefully next time I come to upgrade the process won't be so painful.

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A update on the SPV M600 query

I got it! yep and it was well worth the wait!

So a quick update on whats happening with the SPV M600 which I'm still currently trying to get. So expansys emailed me on Wednesday and said they have 9 phones in stock, would you want us to deliver it to you tomorrow. I decided against it because it would mean a change of contract and everything would have to go through expansys instead of Orange directly. This may seem stupid if I really wanted the phone that badly but actually the new contact would have cost me extra every month, therefore ignoring all the time and money I've spent with Orange for the last 3 years. So I thought I would search the London Orange Business stores for M600's. I visited the Holburn, Cheapside, Oxford Circus and Woolwich business centres multiple times this week, after getting some hot tips about the M600 being delivered to those stores. Obviously all the trips ended up in no phones. I think the closest I got to the M600 was the Woolwich store, where they sold out the evening before I phoned up.

Anyway I decided do things a little differently after reading Dan's comment about holding Orange to ransom about moving to Vodafone. I decided to call Oranges, I'm moving to another network line. And it worked out well for myself.

They agreed to keep me on my current contract but change the amount of free text messages I get every month and give me the phone for free. At the time (yesterday – Thursday) I was dismissive of the offer because I thought the phone wouldn't be in stock for another month. So agreed that Orange should call me when theres actual M600's in stock which they can deliver the next day.

I decided to keep search and phoning Orange stores looking for any left over stock of the M600, just incase (i ride past 3 of them in the mornings). But the same women who I spoke to yesterday on the phone at Orange, called me mid morring and said what I've been waiting for months. We have stock of the SPV M600 would you like me to send you one on a free upgrade? I almost started laughing, yes indeed!

So now Monday at sometime my new phone should come and I will finally have the phone I've been waiting for. I just hope Orange don't jack me around because I know Expansys have another deliver of M600's on Tuesday and I will be very tempted to just call them up, unless one of the stores gets it in first. Geez sounds like a endless loop, doesn't it? Lets just hope Orange delivers on its promise. As I have a load of applications ready to install on it.

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London’s Intellectually Curious dinners?

Food for thought, from Slashdot on Wednesday by an anonymous reader.

Slashdotters are certified geeks, but apparently there's a bunch of other people out there who are very interested in science, technology, politics and culture but they don't want to be known as geeks. A media consulting firm called OMD did a study for the company that owns and LiveScience. They conclude that 60 million Americans can be called “intellectually curious.” Intellectually, I'm curious what that makes the rest of them.

I know for all the progress people have made with the word Geek, people still cringe when I ask if they fancy going to a geekdinner. Its kind of weird being a self confessed geek and seeing geek tendious in other people but they refuse to submit to these natrual urges. So i've been thinking maybe just maybe we would actually attract more people if the name changed. Not to say I'll be changing it, its just a thought that we could actually be celebrating the side effect of intellectual curiousity not the source its self. I guess like celebrating a blogging application rather than the application of blogging?

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One of the meetup features I miss


I will be first to admit that has some good features, but since they started charging the group origaniser it seems like there has been a move away from its system. The problem is where do you move to? Eventful and Upcoming are my prefered services but there are things like Zevents also. However all of them don't quite have all the features of meetup.

One of the features which I miss from Meetup is the ability to print out signs to attract people to the event when your at the actual venue. Last nights London Blogger's meetup was a small affair but attracted some regulars to geekdinner but I also finally met Jo. Jo printed out the meetup sign and placed it on the long table in all bar one, soho. I certainly miss this.

So I've decide to build a XSL transform to generate one of these for Eventful events. My first thought was to transform the XHTML page which already has microformat data for the event.. But quickly realised that the page isn't XHTML at all, for example my next geekdinner event. So unless I cleaned up the HTML first using something like Jtidy first it seemed pointless. So I started looking at the RSS and ATOM feeds. And there is where I struck gold. In the ATOM feed there is everything you need and more. Unlike the RSS feed which is simple RSS 2.0 with A9 Opensearch and Yahoo Media RSS extentions, the ATOM feed has some google data extention. The schema links no where but contains the event dates, location and more. All defined in nice namespaced elements which means its easy to pull out the data needed for the XSL transformation. I was hoping to adapt the XSL to transform not only Eventful ATOM feeds but also upcoming events. But there syndication is either ical or some odd combined html/javascript yahoo or google export. Which really sucks because its not valid XHTML. I'll post my XSL one I'm done. But I'm also considering a XSL-FO transform instead of CSS and XSL. Although its tempting to use XSL 2.0, I 'm going to resist so people can download it and apply the XSL locally. Humm maybe a simple Greasemonkey script will make this even easier to apply to any eventful event.

So using Cocoon and a simple XSL, you can now see any event from Eventful in a design which can be printed out on a black and white printer and pinned up at the event or before the event. Its not quite the table things I was thinking about before, Instead its a useful A4 poster. To use the service? simply enter the eventful unique code into the url after{eventful code}. So here's a list of test events.

Please note you need to view the print preview to actually see the correct poster, because I'm using two stylesheets one for print and another for the screen. Oh and the current XSL is here. Please modify it if you feel the need, its released under a creative commons licence.

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The next geekdinner will be with Marc Canter

Marc Canter and his girls at SXSW

I do not even know where to start with Marc Canter. Honestly he's one of the guys whos been around since the early days of the internet and beyond. Good friend of other great personalities such as Doc Searls, David Weinberger and JD Lasica. I'm excited to announce that our next geekdinner will be with one of the most outspoken and genuine guy in the internet industry today. Marc Canter.

Here's a few snippits from the profile on wikipedia.

Marc Canter is a recognized figure in the sphere of open standards, social networks and blogging, and has been interviewed and quoted on the subject matter in numerous publications. Marc is a frequent speaker and panelist at conferences such as Web 2.0, SuperNova, Gnomedex, AlwaysOn Innovation, SXSW and many others. Marc is also a contributer to many open standards efforts and is champion for end-user controlled digital identities and content – being a co-founder of the Identity Gang

He is the founder and CEO of Broadband Mechanics, a digital lifestyle aggregator /images/emoticons/laugh.gifLA) company. Broadband Mechanics builds tools and environments to enable online communities. They target their products at a broad user base with the hope that everyday people can make better use of Internet technologies.

Broadband Mechanics recently released Ourmedia (along with JD Lasica), a community for digital creators to store their work for free. This nonprofit effort provides unlimited storage for grassroots video, audio, music, photos, text and public domain works, and presents a community space to share and discuss personal media.

Broadband Mechanics also recently released StructuredBlogging, a compatability box effort at establishing clear standards for microcontent. This organization has released Perl and Php libraries and plug-ins for WordPress and Moveable Type. StructuredBlogging is a complete superset of and has established schemas for events, reviews, lists, media (audio and video), people and group showcases.

You can find his voice on his personal blog

So the details of the event. It will be Monday 1st May downstairs in the Polar Bear's Cellar bar. It will start at 6pm and carry on till late. Yes its a Bank Holiday and I know London's Public Transport isn't the best on Bank Holidays but were starting earlier and bring everything forward so people can get home without too much hassle. The price will be 5 pounds just to cover the range of food as usual. Yes there will be vegatarian food and I have spoke to the polar bear about trying to seperate the food a lot more. I will post a entry on the website tonight if I can find the login and password. Look out for it on the londongeekdinner Eventful group and the London metro on Upcoming.

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Recent xbox media centre changes

Firefox entension in use

Recently the Xbox media centre team have been working on a stable 2.0 version. This means there is a code freeze while they iron out any outstanding bugs. But this hasn't stopped the innovation around xbmc.

So first up, xbox media centre took both game and multimedia 2006 sourceforge awards. On the side, Azureus won overall winner which like Jon is a permanent fixture in my video viewing. Good to see xbmc winning awards like this. I really believe its one of the best open source projects out there at the moment.

Some innovation which I haven't quite worked out the possiblities of yet. In the recent update to xbox media centre (march betas), is the ability for xbox media centre to connect to FTP servers. This is pretty crazy, because the only limitation is now the pipe, as you will also see in the next innovation. I've connected to my personal cubicgarden FTP server and a couple of annoymous FTP servers. It works really well and you can browse around for any media which is on there. It would be good to connect to Webdav servers but I'm sure thats coming soon. Reminds me to suggest that in the forums.

The next thing is the send media URL to Xbox media centre. Its been in xbmc for quite sometime but the application to get it working has been a windows only application. And there was no way I was going to run some odd application just to quickly post a media url to the xbox. But now someone has wrote a Firefox application which does this. Its really cool too, because all you need to do is set the ip address of the xbox and then right click on the link you want to send. And within seconds the xbox will start streaming the media link. Oh and for you mac fans theres is also a Dashboard widget, i'm sure it won't take long for it to be a Yahoo/Konfabulator widget too. Obviously the pipe/bandwidth is still a issue. But damm its quick and easy. This fits perfectly with Keep however you can't get stuff from You Tube because its in FLV format and the xbox won't play back flash video files. Ideally the xbox would play back flash formats or Keep Vid would transcode it to something more playable like avi or mov. Then people could also take it away and play the media on there psp or ipod.

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Finally a reason to dump user generated content

From Derek Powazek, the guy who wrote Design for Community (the book which got me and Sarah together.

Death to User-Generated Content
Can I make a suggestion? Let's all stop using the phrase “user-generated content.” I'm serious. It's a despicable, terrible term. Let's deconstruct it.
User: One who uses. Like, you know, a junkie.
Generated: Like a generator, engine. Like, you know, a robot.
Content: Something that fills a box. Like, you know, packing peanuts.

So what's user-generated content? Junkies robotically filling boxes with packing peanuts. Lovely.

Calling the beautiful, amazing, brilliant things people create online “user-generated content” is like sliding up to your lady, putting your arm around her and whispering, “Hey baby, let's have intercourse.”

UCG or user generated content has always got my back up. But now I know exactly why now. This is perfect Derek, couldn't have said it better and to be honest the phrase Authentic Media isn't bad at all.

Authentic media comes to you unfiltered by the global brands and conglomerates that have taken over the mainstream media. Authentic media is the raw, first-person narrative you can find on blogs and homepages. Authentic media is what happens when the mediators get out of the way and give the mic over to the people who actually have something to say.
The best part about this phrase? It paints the rest of the mediascape as inauthentic. I can live with that.

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Orange why can I not have a strikingly compact M600?

SPV M600

Orange are simply taking the piss now. Not only do they have the phone I want in stock but they will not sell it to me because its classed as a business phone. Yeah how stupid is that? Tell me Orange what about the SPV M500, SPV M2000, 3G mobile Office card and the SPV M5000. Hummm well Orange? What adds to the insult is the fact that Orange France are selling the SPV M600 as normal and that Orange UK won't be releasing this phone out of the business tarrif till sometime in Summer at least (so I've been told). Anyway, I've bitten the bullet and bought the phone via a 3rd party. Expansys reckon they have the phone ready to go, so I've bought it from them under the understanding that I can return it within 30days if I'm not happy with it. I can also cancel the order if Orange get it before Expansys, but I very much douht it. So yeah goodbye to the Nokia N80, its a good phone but its not coming on to Orange till late May now I hear, Vodafone in May.

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Geek and Geekhag podcast number eight – Black White

Chess piece

My and Sarah's 8th podcast is now available online. Enjoy and please leave a comment if you've enjoyed it or simply hate it. This is really part two of podcast number seven but its unique enough to simply make it another number. As always, enjoy.

This time me and Sarah explain what happened after the last podcast and spend most of the time talking about Black White, a TV series we've been downloading recently which tries to tackle black and white culture in America. We talk about the difference between Black American culture and Black English culture. The weirdness which is simply the extreme American way and how I love to mess with people stereotypes and perceptions of young Black men. We settle on the fact that a whole range of things keep up the perceptions and that people hate change.

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