and geekdinners

Book Tour. Where authors and audiences meet

I was listening to Technation on ITconverations today and Moira Gunn was talking to the guys behind It sounds fantastic, and really useful for getting guest for future geekdinners. But what suprised me was the fact Chris Anderson was behind it too. Hummm, I wonder if his experience of selling the Long Tail around the world might have convinced him that this would be a good idea? Also I wonder if last year when we had that geekdinner for him (within 7 days of him saying yes by the way) could still be good memory for him? That night we had about 140 people turn up and Chris was really looking forward to chilling out with Geeks after a quite aggressive book tour. He stayed pretty much till the end and signed books with a huge smile on his face.

Who knows maybe one day we will get the likes of Steven Levitt, Malcolm Gladwell, Stowe Boyd and Joi ito

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Redbull + Tabasco + Vodka = A Hotbull?

Red Bull grants wings

I have a drink which I love a little too much when going out and drinking. Redbull is simply wrong but ever so right. We all know its bad for the human body but its so refreshing and enjoyable on a hot day. How most people enjoy a good beer is how I enjoy a redbull. Not too much, but I have been known to drink too much in one night.

Anyway as I started going to better clubs, I came across a drink called a TVR, yep Tequila, Vodka and Redbull. Drinking this will cause terriable headaches because it goes down pretty smoothly and contains the evil evil Tequila (yes I bet you all had flashbacks of that crazy night when you were dancing on a table holding a Tequila bottle or glass! We've all done it except of course moi).

Anyway, somewhere along my past, I decided to put Tabasco sauce in drinks with redbull to bring down the sweetness and slow down my drinking (when I was raving it wasn't unhear of for me to drink 8+ cans of redbull a night). This developed and I found removing the Vodka too also was good. So what I'm saying is – yes I made this lovely cocktail. Its a drink you either love or really hate. Out of a group of 6 guys in Edinburgh (yes I'm writing that Edinburgh post very soon) only one turned around and said he quite liked it. My BBC friends hated my drink too. I've had a few Barpeople look at me very strange when asking for the Tabasco and those willing to try have admitted its not that bad.

I put claim to creating this cocktail described, vodka and lime is optional but ask for it at the bar next time your out and see what you think. Oh my god, imagine redbull and Tabasco as shots instead of a drink. What do you say to that then Any

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Give me a decent RSS reader on GNU/Linux please

This quote from the Greatnews Forum sums up my feelings about RSS readers on Linux. I'm actually tempted to run a cut down version of Windows using VMwareplayer and just Greatnews.

Annoyed with some of Microsoft's policies regarding their users, and disgusted with the looks and ridiculous size of Windows Vista, I've been slowly working on the switch from MS' operating system to Linux (Ubuntu 6.06, to be more precise).

So far, the experience has been great but there is one application that keeps me going back to Windows, and it is not Adobe Photoshop. It turns out that not only there is no RSS reader even remotely alike GreatNews on the penguin, there doesn't seem to be any decent reader at all. I've been trying to make do with RSS Owl, but that 3-pane e-mail client GUI just won't do, and the fact that it doesn't archive posts is absolutely exasperating.

My first impulse, of course, would be to suggest a Linux version of GreatNews. But I don't think that's a reasonable idea, at least in the near future. So, the next best thing I can do is try to run it with something like Wine.

I'm currently using the preview version of RSSOwl 2.0 simply because it has the advance functionality, handles 400 feeds ok but geez how memory does it want to eat? Yes I know some of you will say what about AKagregator, Liferea, etc, etc. Trust me I've installed them all and tried them out. Most crash when I try and load in a 400 feed OPML file or take forever to jump feed to feed. I even went through this frustration with a couple of friends and they were lost for words. Even Mark Pilgrims list of essential software for Linux does not have a RSS reader on it! I'm sorry but this is bad and very sad. I got use to using Particls but can live without it for a while, till I find a way of getting the benefit of my APML file in another RSS reader, or they release a Linux version? Linux is also missing simple things like wheres the slick RSS screensaver? Windows and Mac have plenty, including some opensource versions which I'm sure could be ported if needed.

My plead to the Linux world is get clued up about RSS on the desktop, its not going away and actually for some like myself prefered to reading web pages. Now can someone tell me I'm very wrong and debunk what I'm saying? Please…

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iphone unlocking, a question of PR, what would you do if you were Apple or AT&T?

iPhone unlocked to Tmobile

So the Apple iPhone has been well and truely software hacked by multiple people (credit to Engadget for the coverage).

Now if Apple are getting a percentage of the activations and monthly iPhone bills, they will start lossing money. Currently the soft mod is in the geek community but how long will it take for this to spread?

So if your Apple and AT&T's PR department what would you do? Would you ignore it and assume it won't reach the mainstream market or come out now with something? Also what would that something be? Would you attract more attention to the whole issue. Back to Apple, Would you consider some sneaky locking system via iTunes or the GSM network to over ride the current iPhone firmware, like Sony and Microsoft have done in the past?

Me, I would work hard on improving the service at AT&T and address some of the issues people have with their network. Then again, that 5 year contract means Apple are stuck to AT&T for the next few years. What does this mean for me? Well if it comes to the UK and its much cheaper, does 3g and could be used on Orange. I would be more likely to get it.

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Cashback (the film)

After a painful break up with his first girlfriend Suzy, Ben, an aspiring artist, develops insomnia. To take his mind off his problem he spends his nights working at a local supermarket, where he meets colourful characters. He falls in love with his colleague Sharon.

He lets his imagination run wild. In particular, he imagines that he can stop time for others, so that he can walk around in a world that is “frozen” like in pause mode of a film. He imagines female clients standing frozen in the supermarket, so that he can undress and draw them.

This film Cashback was reminded me of my earlier life working in Tesco over night, except the drawing them part. Anyway worth watching, as its a good well executed feel good British movie.

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I told you I would never upgrade to Windows Vista

My Ubuntu desktop

It took quite a long time but I finally got fed up with Windows XP when weird services started showing up plus it would take 1min to suspend. I could have reinstalled XP, upgraded to Vista or moved to Ubuntu 7.04. Although its not exactly the best time to do so, I moved to Ubuntu GNU/Linux and I'm slowly porting my settings and data over from the Windows drive. So far, Firefox, Thunderbird, Keepass, Hamachi are all up and running. I'll get the tricker stuff going tomorrow.

I'm finding and TuxMobil useful by the way.

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Sainsbury’s without the alcohol range

I was doing some late night shopping in Sainsbury's as you do and walked pass a new range of fruit juices. These fruit juices are sold as popular alcoholic drinks without the alcoholic ingredient. So for example I'm currently drinking a Cosmopolitan without the Vodka, and its honestly great. But you know whats better, the Mojito version! Spearmint leaves, Lime and Sugar together is amazing and there's been many a time I've wanted to order one without the Rum. Well now my wishes have been granted.

The Sugar content on these drinks are actually not that bad but yeah you don't want too many of these on a night. I did try the mojito juice with some rum yesterday but to be honest it needed soda as the rum was over powering.

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Found a house mate at last

People keep saying, I saw you in the London paper or I saw you at Minibar. Generally there asking hows the house mate search going?

Well I'm glad to say finally after a bunch of weirdos and some simply rude people, I found a house mate through a friend of a friend. She's geeky and Japanese which you have to agree is a ideal match for a house mate in my house. Shes also moving in next weekend, so its all going well.

Now for those who find themselves in a similar position, here's a couple of thoughts.

Being in the London paper did nothing on the house sharing end of things at all. I didn't get a single request from that at all. I did however get 15 of my friends texting and calling me saying I saw you in the paper today and yesterday. Timeout has great contracts and rendered a couple of enquirers but no viewings. Craigslist was almost pointless. While and Gumtree did get a few viewings. There was a couple more places the ad went up like Facebook (1 viewing, also cost nothing) Moveflat,

So generally the best thing to do always is to tap your friends networks.

Now if I get my hands on a Wii now….


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Over doing the caffeine

illy Expresso

Ok I have to be honest and say when I first heard this story I laughed and said 7 double expresso's is nothing.

A teenager was taken to hospital after overdosing on espresso coffee.

Jasmine Willis, 17, developed a fever and began hyperventilating after drinking seven double espressos while working at her family's sandwich shop.


Now to be fair it was a teenage girl who 17 and shes maybe not use to drinking a lot of coffee anyway. But I got to say when I worked in Starbucks in Victoria. I use to drink about 4-5 double expresso's a shift. But then again I was also drinking about 4-6 cans of redbull on a weekend too.

I found this great site about caffeine via DL.TV a while back. Death by Caffeine allows you to put in your current weight and it will work out how much cups of coffee, tea, insert name of energy drink here it will take to kill you. This might sound all in bad taste following this teenagers near death experience but you got to look on the light side. Oh and drink less caffeine.

Some slighly shocking findings.

It would take over 200 cans of redbull to kill me by caffeine alone but only 150 expresso's. Actually a double shot of Starbucks Coffee has double the caffeine of Redbull when you look at it per ounce and a expresso 5 times more.

At the top end of the list is Fixx Energy which has 500mg (85ml per 100ml) of caffeine in a bottle, which just beats a Starbucks Grande Coffee which has 372mg but 79mg per 100ml. But if your deadly serious about your caffeine in take you need to look at the pills and mints. No-Doz, Maximum Strength and Dexatrim has 200mg per pill! No wonder I was still very wired at 8am in the morning after going out clubbing when I was younger. Luckly I never experienced what Jasmine did.

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In the Paper again, this time a city wide one

This was unexpected but Sarah set this up about a week ago and I knew nothing about it till Sarah text me earlier today. Shes been having a hard time recently and I really want to thank her for doing this and holding things together. I know we will end up being long term friends through-out.

So yeah a work paper yesterday, city wide today, national tomorrow? Well funny enough I'm having a interview with a national paper tomorrow about the Edinburgh TV Un-Festival. But seriously you won't see me tomorrow in anything, hopefully

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Is Design really seedy?

Blackbelt Jones wrote this great post about Seedcamp and the lack of design involvement.

From the Seedcamp about pages:

“There will be a diverse mentor network of serial entrepreneurs, corporates, venture capitalists, recruiters, marketing specialists, lawyers and accountants that will help the selected teams put together the foundations of a viable business.”

How about designers?

Technology plays alone are starting to lose their distinctiveness in many of the more-crowded areas of the marketplace.

Great service and interaction design are on the rise as strategic differentiators for products as diverse as the iPhone and Facebook.

He's right, The only thing desiresable about the iphone is the interface, the technology is under powered or frankly from 2005. Thankfully its not all bad.

The line between hackers and interaction designers is blurring as they start small businesses that are starting to make waves in the big business press.

As I mentioned, my experience of HackDay Europe was that

“It really does seem that the hacker crowd in London/Europe at least is crossing over more and more with the interaction design crowd, and a new school of developers is coming through who are starting to become excellent interaction designers – who really know their medium and have empathy with users.”

This reminds me of my made up position name while at Ravensbourne, Designer/Developer. At the time I design was far too form based while development was far too programming based. Web designer meant you created HTML pages, Information designer meant you didn't actually touch any data or apis and Interaction designer meant you were too focused on art, hanging out in Hoxton and convince your clients they were always wrong. Things have changed for the better. The grey area between design and development
has been intersected by a 3rd force the hacker. So now you get pursuits like hardware hacking, alternative reality games, product user interface hacking. The fact is that its not about the titles, its about what vision you have in your head and how much effort your willing to put in to it.

Business-wise I think we have yet to see what affect the greying of design, development and hacking will have on startup culture.

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To the BBC Ariel and beyond

Ian Forrester and Matthew Cashmore on stage at Hackday

I'm not the kind of guy to ring my own bell (I bet you liked that one Adam) but finally backstage made the Ariel newspaper. Ariel is the newspaper/magazine which is published every week about whats going on inside the BBC. Its really for internal use only, but you can get it pretty much everywhere now. Anyway the point is that its read by tens of thousands of BBC staff from across the board.

Well finally Backstage made it in, from the work at Hack day to the innovative work we do with the backstage community daily. Its finally made its way into the mainstream. We've become the media darlings of BBC Research and Innovation. But never fear, I'm throwing Cluetrains out when needed and will not be spending time with press unless its necessary (*big smile*).

I hoping when my parents see this, they might understand a little more about what I do at work.

You can zoom in closer on this picture to read what the article actually says. Where's my OCR application gone… No need Leeky worte it out in the comments. So here's the full text.

Not so much a department, more a state of mind. That's how Ian Forrester and Matthew Cashmore describe their innovation award-winning This self-styled 'comedy duo' may be tucked away on the fifth floor of the Broadcast Centre in W12, but their influence on the corporation's online future surely stretches to infinity and beyond!

“Historically people wanting to develop internet applications independently for the BBC didn't know how to talk to or how to access a server on which they could demonstrate their work”, says Forrester. “So our job has been to break down the old barriers and build up new relationships.” is a prime example of the BBC's commitment to the growing open source community.

“Our motto is 'Use our stuff to build your stuff'”, chuckles Cashmore. A genial Welshman with a list of website and podcasting innovations to his credit, he claims his first foray into coding came when he created a Dungeons and Dragons dice throwing programme on a Commodore 64 while still a schoolboy in the late 1980s.

Forrester and Cashmore were also British brains behind the Hack Day event which took place at Alexandra Palace in June. Here the BBC joined forces with US-based service provided Yahoo and invited 500 of EUrope's top 'hackers' to take advantage of existing public data and previously unavailable API (application programming interface) codes to deisgn brand new products to enhance or expand the BBC's existing online offer.

“Some of the things these guys mashed together in just 24 hours, especially regarding the interface between mobile phones and computers, were really thrilling”, says Cashmore. “We hope to bring the best of them forward in the very near future.” also used Hack Day to launch the new Wild West rapid development server for which the pair received their innovation award two months ago.

“Wild West is somewhere outside existing BBC servers where anybody with an interesting idea can try it out and we can qucikly and cheapily assess whether it's worth supporting”, says Forrester.

meta-technorati-tags=bbc, backstage, bbcbackstage, ariel, article, cluetrain

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