Takeaway Festival 2: DIY Talks

Dana Centre talks

I was asked to talk at the Takeaway fest yesterday. My talk was after a total of 9 different talks, so I knew I was going to have to keep it super short anyway. But as usual everyone ran over and I had less that 6 mins to explain why Hackday was going to be ever so great for the audience of artists and designers. I even created some slides for the purpose. I felt I did a good job in the short amount of time till I put on the video of Becks puppets and no one laughed. I'm hoping it was just tiredness setting in or something…

Something also struck me about the different stages people were at. For example Briony Greenhill was talking about the new site which encourages people to be a little more greener every month. She demoed it and I was amazed at its lack of (if I had a better word I would use it) Web 2.0ness. First of all it seemed to be built totally in Flash and seemed very unaccessible and somewhat unusable (but I was wrong, its using elements of Flash and lots of images with no alts). Then I looked for other web 2.0 type things like the ability to have friends, take elements away, a feed, an api, openid, microformats, etc. Nope nothing. Maybe I'm being over the top and its not fair to just pick on Briony but it strikes me that there was quite a bit of re-engineering instead of building on whats already there. Another silo to get wrapped up in.

Generally there were some very good speakers and good presentations. I specially loved the OScar project, which I've heard of before. I have to be honest and say Swarm of Angels is becoming less and less interesting to me everytime I read about it.

Anyway, I filmed a good selection of talks

and they should be up on Blip.tv in the next few hours, I'll replace the links once they appear.

meta-technorati-tags=takeaway2, festival, diy, talks, conference, design, interaction, art, time, danacentre

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The best and worst of Hotel Wifi

Lloyd hotel from the north view

Hotelchatter posted up a list of its best and worst wifi enabled hotels. Its mainly American centric but there is a international version here.

Number one in the international version is the Lloydhotel.

Amsterdam: Lloyd Hotel. Free WiFi. Worked so fast in this large hotel. So fast we downloaded an entire season of The Office on iTunes within two hours.

Even 2 years ago it was flipping fast and effect-less. Every 4 rooms shared a wireless point and there was more that enough through-out the rest of the hotel to get wireless outside, the lobby and beyond. I think the only place you don't get wireless is in the lifts. I also got upgraded to the D level penthouse on the weekend, so I'm a little bias generally towards a simply awesome hotel.

Since joining Backstage, I've spent a lot of time in hotels and always try to pick hotels with Free Wireless. Usually the problem I get is that the wireless is in the lobby not the rooms or its not actually free its pay wireless by someone like Tmobile, BT or much worst Eurospot. The other issue is that most hotels don't care or have no one who actually knows the difference. When trying to book a hotel in Newcastle I phoned up about 12 hotels and at one point had to describe the BT open zone, Tmobile logos over the phone because the reception couldn't tell the difference between free and pay wifi. No lie!

So yes the situation in the UK is pretty dire once you get out there. I'm certainly thinking about submitting some of the hotels I've been to on the international hotelchatter site. I remember a hotel I stayed in during my last trip to Manchester, it costs equivalent to 10p a minute for internet access through a wired connection (there were no bundles or offers available) I believe it was operated by swissport or europort. And thats the biggest problem, you can read the website and find it does have internet access but what kind is unknown by even the staff or management.

On the upside, GNER trains have wireless through-out the trains and although it costs about 10 pounds for 24hours, its certainly worth it for a 6 hour journey to Scotland. Recently I heard the Cloud have covered the City of London (business square mile) in rich wifi. I don't think its free but at 11.99 per month for unlimited (yes what does unlimited really mean) data its not a bad deal if your wanting wireless in the UK. The cloud has also been pretty good about inter-operating with BT and I think you can even interop with Tmobile hotspots. There's no douht where ever you go now in London at least, there is some kind of wireless and its usually operated by one of the big 3. Sometimes I do see Orange hotspots, but I can't seem to get Orange to just add it to my existing mobile bill.

Generally its all a big mess but soon I'm sure like the Marriot adverts I keep seeing, hotels will wise up and start highlighting the fact they have free wireless (although I'm sure it will just get added into the room bill).

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A different type of conference?


From Tom Morris

I've got this great idea for a conference

First, it'd have a session called “Pop Culture and Democracy” which would discuss whether the Internet culture's of remixing popular culture helps in democratic participation and related areas. Just over an hour long. Then I'd have a panel of tech people talking about microformats, spam, Creative Commons and anything else that seems interesting or relevant. After that a short discussion from a researcher talking about the Semantic Web. Next, a half hour session or so on Python programming. Then just under fifty minutes of Cory Doctorow doing all the usual Cory things – copyright, DRM, evil Microsoft etc. A discussion of the role of developers, then an hour on the One Laptop Per Child project. Sound like a cool conference? That's good. It's a list of the podcasts I'm going to listen to. Podcasts are what conferences have become.

Point taken about the podcasts but I would say a BarCamp (unconference) is pretty close to what your getting at. However there is certainly something between a unconference and conference which could be reached. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens with d.construct and barcampbrighton in September. Conference+UnConference in one weekend, should be great.

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April in New York

Sarah and Ian

I did spent almost a week in New York with Sarah. We did enjoy our time there but wasn't as impressed as most people are. I guess living in a huge metropolis of a city like London makes all other huge cities feel quite the same. Obviously there were huge differences for example the London underground is so deep compared to the New York Subway. You can always feel when a train is traveling under your feet.

I did go out for dinner and meetup with David Czarnecki and a whole host of other New Yorkers on Friday night.

Dinner with the New Yorkers

Saturday afternoon a work out in Central Park while a bunch of us play Frisbee 2.0

Me after the game

Then headed over to Bre's for a BBQ in his apartment 10 stories up near hells kitchen. Honestly his apartment was very cool and the space was simply amazing.

10 floors up at Brie's

Obviously we did lots more stuff including seeing the Daily Show being recorded (Rachel has the low down on this one), some time at the top of the Rockefella building, a boat tour around manhattan, lots of walking around and believe it or not we actually went to New Jersey. Not out of choice, more a mistake by our shuttle bus who thought we were going to Newark with everyone else. After a verbal fight we headed back into New York to get to JFK before our flight at 8:30am. 

New York New York

Anyway I got about 300 pictures now on Flickr from New York so go check them out. Thanks again to Rachel for putting up with me and Sarah during the week.

meta-technorati-tags=newyork, ny, bigapple, dailyshow, rockafella, buildings, frisbee, dinner

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Titbits from the last few weeks

So there is a few things which I've twittered but not blogged recently. Rather that use up tons of entries with one liners (tom), I prefer to roll them into one large entry.


I caved in the other day when Plaxo added support for Linked-in. I had been thinking about it for years but choose not to be involved because I simply didn't see the point. The one which almost tipped me over the top was Linked-in support in Particls (touchstone). I wanted to see what extra information it might add to the APML file but didn't have an account to try it with. But now I do. I would just add, Chris and the team you should add linked-in support as a input adapter not bolt it on to the Feed adapter. This code might be useful too, because I and others might be able to hack together other input adapters for Flickr, Delicious, etc. I still want to play a lot more with my FOAF profile because I think thats so much more powerful. So anyway, you can link to me using my bbc email address or search for my name.


Recently something has gone wrong with Particls (touchstone) it happened when it tried to swap my account from Touchstone to Particls directory. I need to sort it out as my APML file is too neutral now and I'm not getting those good sharp posts coming through like before.  The RSS screensaver (sent to lifehacker btw) is also doing lots of repeating, so I suspect the Pebble output isn't work correctly. I got a feeling I might end up doing a complete post with screenshots because its changed so much since I last looked at it.

Trusted Places and Dopplr

I've been using reusing Trustedplaces recently when I go away to a different cities. Now I have trusted places in New York, San Francisco and of course London. I have also started using Dopplr which tracks your trips and shows your friends trips. Its really cool but I wish it would keep your old trips so you can compare in the future and maybe hang things off of it like flickr pictures, trusted places reviews, etc. I look forward to when Trustedplaces and Dopplr get APIs or tons of feeds.

Dopplr my map

Xtech: Pipelines

I'm wrote the paper for Xtech recently and I'm in the process of writing the presentation. I'm still playing with my flow * setup but the presentation is the most important thing. I'm hoping to get the Eurostar to Paris but it looks like I'll be getting a plane because the BBC don't have a eurostar account. I'm in Paris for a week but the last part will be with friends from Minneapolis.

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So having just watched Spiderman 3

spiderman3 poster

So I just saw Spider-man 3 in the cinema, and the general feeling is its certainly reached the end of the line. Please don't make anymore (unless its spider-man begins or something). It had its moments and I certainly saw glimmers of what made Spiderman 1 and somewhat 2 good. However people actually laughed at the corny scenes, the extra money spent on sandman were obviously taken from the story budget and like John Stewart said on the daily show a while ago. The symbiote thing from outer space which turned out to be venom was laughable at best. Don't get me started on how Sandman was created, geez suspend all believe or don't turn on your brain for the next 2 hours. What really killed it for me was the moment when spiderman jumps pass the american flag, long enough for me to grab my camera and snap a shot. Obviously I did't but I was thinking about it.

I can't believe they ruined Spiderman. Sarah went all out on it, and shes right, it was crap. We wasted 7.20 pounds on a film which sucked. I knew we should have seen something else but my mind was pretty much made up after seeing the first 3 shows were sold out. Watching the last hour of the film was something like pulling nails out or like the picture above.

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Unlimited broadband does not exist?

Glyn sent me this while I was away.

ISPA to members: play fair on fair use

Internet providers' trade association ISPA has told its members to stop advertising “unlimited” broadband unless they are explicit and transparent about their fair use policies. Over recent months public calls have grown louder for action against ISPs who hawk “unlimited” services, without monthly download limits or bandwidth throttling, only to threaten cut-off when unpublished limits are breached.

At long last something starting to happen. My experience with Demon drove me away from them and I'm now a customer of UK Free Software Network. However I'm disappointed OFCOM have not stepped in here…

Action against ISPs has not been taken by Ofcom or the Advertising Standards Authority, which says “unlimited” advertising is OK as long as the small print says there is a fair use policy. The details of the fair use policy do not have to be published, however, as Pipex customers recently dicovered when they were told they would be cut off if they didn't rein in their broadband use.

What good is a fair use policy if you can't see whats in it!!! Once again sign the epetition if you think OFCOM and the ASA should publish there fair use policy amounts for all to see.

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