Google Announces the OpenSocial API

Diagrams of how it works

Google has announced OpenSocial, a new open API for social networks. The new standard will allow developers to create Facebook-like apps on any social network site that implements it with the same calls.

The open API will have three parts

  • People
  • Storage
  • Activity stream

All of these calls will have a GData counterpart and they will use HTML and Javascript only. Google is considering adding OAuth (Radar post) to the API.

This is huge because finally we're starting to see a common standard being build into different social networks. There are some caveats however like no support for Facebook or Myspace. But good to see Plaxo and Linkedin involved in this API project. I told you Google were up to something

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Ashley Highfield on iPlayer, DRM and Crossplatform Support

From the Backstage Blog, a frank discussion about DRM and Cross-platform support. It all started when I asked Ashley a few questions recently about the iplayer strategy. Ashley answered the question with quite a bit of passion and Matthew Cashmore thought hey wouldn't it be a good idea to get some of that passion in a recording. He is the result which you can judge for yourselves…

The iPlayer, no don't do a runner, seriously, it's taken over the mailing list, dominated our discussions and is something that many members of the backstage community care an awful lot about. So do we. We all know the questions. Why don't we stand up to the rights holders? Why do we insist on using DRM? Why did we sign a secret deal in blood with Microsoft?

So we finally decided that these questions needed answers, and the only person to talk to was the boss. We present 26 minutes of questions and answers about iPlayer, DRM and cross platform support with Ashley Highfield, Director Future Media & Technology.

In this frank discussion we cover the DRM issues, explain that iPlayer isn't a Microsoft only party and ask why didn't we use a non propriety solution.

You can get the file directly from Blip.TV under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence in Mpeg3, Ogg Vorbis or AAC.

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A Vision of Students Today

In a follow up to the simply amazing The machine is using us. Professor Michael Wesch has started to tackle the subject of students university experience.

a short video summarizing some of the most important characteristics of students today – how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime. Created by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University.

Its the start of a larger project which we can all take part in.

Thanks Robin for the link to the one I almost missed

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Women in Games London Mixer video posted and more…

Women in Games mixer

Its been a really busy week and I've still not quite got around to blogging most of it but I did want to say (quickly) that the Videos for the Women in Games Mixer videos (part 1 and part 2) are now up on BlipTV. As usual unedited and under a creative commons licence, so you can edit the best bits if you like. Nothing to stimulating but interesting. Good work Thayer.

You can also find the boagworld 100th Live meetup video at the same place this time in 4 parts. Expect to hear audio from the Will Wright Lecture, some shouting about how Andrew 'amatuers are killing the industry' Keen got a frosty reception at the Arts Council and some writing about other games related events soon. Still I can't believe I missed Toshio demonstrating Electroplankton at ZeroOne, I would have paid to have been there. Anyway, don't forget today is the Geekdinner with the Wii and Thursday a Geekdinner with Stowe Boyd.

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Current state of Ubuntu switch over

Well to be honest it was going so well till I upgraded to Ubuntu 7.10. Now I can't put my laptop into standby/suspend or hibernate. This means I need to switch it off everytime I make a trip anywhere longer that a short walk. If I shut the lid, it locks up and I end up having to force the shutdown with the power button. I'm not the only one and there is an official bug been raised. George reckons I have 3 options… Live with it, downgrade or change kernal version. I prefer to keep 7.10 because I actually like some of the new features but hate not being able to suspend.

Another thing broke recently, Hamachi. It was working fine for ages then it broke. Problem is that it will launch as usual but hit the power button and I get a error saying could not log into Hamachi. Yes I have tried different Gui's and from the shell. Whats extra weird is my two other Ubuntu machines are running Hamachi without a problem now.

On the upside, Compiz graphics is seriously tuned now and you can really tweak the settings to your perfect taste now. Tomboy notes has webdav syncing now. I'm already thinking about syncing it with Exist DB (xmldb) which I'm going to run on my workstation in the near future. I have switched my windows home server over to Ubuntu 6.06.1 LTS because I wanted something rock solid. And to be honest its a dual Pentium 3 with tons of hard drive space and memory, it doesn't need 7.x.I Put Webmin on it and everythings working including Hamachi, SSH, Cups (printer server) and Samba. I'm trying out Amanda for backup again, so if anyone from Amanda wouldl like to help out, just comment.

Bluetooth support in 7.10 has come along a lot but the Bluetooth support in KDE seems a lot stronger again. George showed me the lock and unlock feature I've always wanted for my laptop. Unfortually it doesn't seem to see my windows mobile phone, I think maybe because its looking just for phones while my spv comes up as a computer on other scans. Also explains why it can see my work Nokia N80 all the time. Virtual Box is setup and running Windows XP SP3. I tried to run Virtual Dj and it does work but if you put it under any pressure it gets very slow and syncronisation of music becomes a joke. So for my digital djing, I'm going to have to switch back to Windows with a reboot. I've not attempted to put Particls on it but it might work virtualised.

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A non-technical view on social software from a friend

I recently asked a friend about why they had joined Facebook as it tends to hate internet applications which collect data and involves some kind of social aspect.

well, to me all these manage-your-friends-online apps only have one purpose: advertising and adress collection. they are one of the reasons people receive f*cking penis enlargement spams and similar trash.

i believe in modern communicaton, face to face and i already hated the expressions facebook and ringo from day one. they describe that the people are incabable of communication although they have all the best means in our modern society. facebook – i collect my friends faces, the exterior apperance gains importance over real personality values, a quick glance instead of a serious conversation, that's what it symbolises.
the people are plain lazy and comfortable, that's all, i hardly receive any proper emails like the real letters i used to get, ususally short sms style messages like abbreviated postcards. hm, i find that sad ;(

i still receive and send a lot of snail mail and i love it!

Its weird because I only get snail mail with bills and official documents in it now, the rest is junk or miss-directed mail (I get a lot of this).

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TV worth watching?


So I've been downloading lots of media recently, believe it or not but me and my flatmate are eating through 168 gigabytes of data a month! Before you all point the finger at me, my flatmate is on skype everyday for long periods of the day. Anyway it means nothing because thankfully moving to Free software network means I'm only using half of my allocated bandwidth a month (yes I do pay 30 pounds a month for this connection, but rightly so). Anyway theres some great media to download.

If your not watching Dexter season 2 then what are you doing? Spooks season 7 (i think) on UK TV is certainly better that 24 ever was. Its worth noting Dragon's Den is also back and has a slightly new look. Back to American TV, and I can't help but watch Ugly Betty season 2 and Prison Break season 3

which seems to jump the shark every episode now. On the upside Heroes season 2 is simply amazing and can not be missed. While jumping back to the UK again for the last time Billie Piper in a Secret Diary Of A Call Girl is strangely non-sexy and more funny that anything else. Still worth a watch, but certainly cheap TV. Its a shame the real hustle just finished but I'm sure Hustle season 5 will start up again, soon. Although they will need to get back the female from Dexter first. There's certainly enough to watch till Lost comes back.

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London Games Festival 2007

If your in London, the next few weeks is blocked solid with events and exhibitions for the London Games Festival. Just a quick scan down the schedule is enough to start marking down your calendar. What I love is the mix of Fringe and official events, there's stuff for everyone. From Parties like the GLAM Academy Party (Games, Life, and Media) to the Women in Games Mixer social. Looking at my own Calendar, there is something of interest every single day for the next 10 days, including next week Monday (29th Oct) a great event involving live large screen wii gaming from, certainly one not be missed I would say (but I would say that). I think this video gives people the idea of what fun it can be…

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Beware don’t upgrade to Ubuntu 7.10 yet

So I stupidly upgraded from Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty) to 7.10 (Gusty). Now I can't hibernate or suspend my laptop, so I have to power it off each time I want to go somewhere else. My Beryl effects I love have gone and been replaced with something. Thunderbird seems to fall over when starting up and RSSOWL beta 6 has stopped working now. Can I fix all of these soon? Maybe not, does anyone know how to downgrade back to 7.04?

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Live Webcast of Pop!Tech 2007


Pop!Tech is one of those conferences you would love to go to if you could one afford it and two are special enough to be invited. But whats great about Pop!Tech is that they have every year since about 2004 provided a live stream into the conference. With Maine only 5 hours behind London, its not too difficult to catch most of it at home or while working. Tomorrow being Friday, I might have to find a spare machine and have Pop!Tech streaming on it to the whole department. But to be honest the best way to experience Pop!Tech is at home on a Xbox running Xbox Media Centre.

Its very simple to get Pop!Tech streaming on xbmc. Simple create a blank text document with *.strm on the end for an extention. Then stick one of the urls in the file. So for example I have 2 files, one called Poptech-300k.strm with the url – inside of it and Poptech-700k.strm with inside of that. Navigate to the files via the xbox and select them. The Xbox should now start to buffer the content. I've set my buffer to 10meg which is insane but I'm watcing the 700k stream over the 300k version.

What seems to have changed this year is that Pop!Tech has now included archives. This might something to do with the TED talks coming online a while back as podcasts you can download without any DRM. Well Pop!Tech have gone one further by applying a Creative Licence, so you can share, edit and remix under a non-commercial use. Can things get any better?

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Months into the Ubuntu Switchover, rants and raves

Desktop Screenshot

So its been a while but I'm finally getting my head around the gnu/linux system and environment. There are some great things about the switch which makes me cringe everytime I go back into windows (on my work pc and when I want to read my busted sd card – more on this soon). But there are some bad things too.

First, pieces of pure joy. Since I've lost Outlook I've not really had a way to capture notes quickly. Dave showed me Tomboynotes which is build into Gnome. Tomboynotes is a local wiki but saves everything into a simple set of XML files. So now I have XMLstartlet and CWM installed, so I can apply XML processing and more to the raw xml. Combine this with Cron and Unix Pipes and I'm not even sure where to start because theres so many opptunities. I'm also looking at using one editor for unix because I've tried a couple but I need something serious before I start writing XSL again. Currently I'm using Nano for command line operations and Quanta plus for writing XML. I've downloaded Eclipse now and will try out both eclipse and emacs soon. Dave also alerted me to Conduit which is synchronsation solution for Gnome but looking a little deeper seems to be part of the solution for my pipelines application (which yes I've not talked enough about recently let alone updated for a while). So I'm super excited by this and the ability to pipe and process stuff with XML, including a KDE application called Tellico which also stores it records in XML. So I'm adding my music collection (from Amarok) and movie collection (from Myfilmz). I think Conduit is going to be one of those applications which I use a lot.

Other good stuff which is good is Stereo Bluetooth can be made to work in Linux, I just wish it was simplier. I get Cron now thanks to Kcron and Dave also showed me Anacron which works like Cron but will run tasks if your computer is off when you boot it back up. Glyn also showed me some battery saving technology () which looks like it will make its way into Ubuntu 7.11? On Windows I use to get about 4.5 hours of battery life out of my Dell laptop. I'm getting close to that on Ubuntu now but I reckon there is room for improvement, so this little app could help a lot. Samba is coming along, and I've now setup Hamachi ip addresses to shares in /etc/fstab. This means if I'm on my own network or on a internet connection I can still mount shares and its all secure. On the moan side, I still can't do real authentication with Samba for some weird reason. I still don't have a decent blogging application and if I switch my wireless card off, I have to reboot the whole machine to switch it back on again! Oh and Wireless and Bluetooth are lumped together it would seem and I can't find where to just turn off Bluetooth in Ubuntu. Not great for saving power. RSSowl is good but I'm still missing lots of features which could make it great. For example I now have a cron to grab my OPML (hopefully soon my APML too) from Bloglines. I was hoping that I could automaticlly update RSSowl with new subscriptions by over writing a bookmarks file but I can't find such a thing and the feature from RSSowl 1.x of automatic subscribing folders isn't in the new version. Last but not so important is, I still can't get the Wiimote to connect to the computer. Oh and I still need a decent piece of DJ software for Linux, I have to reboot into Windows to use Virtual DJ right now.

So generally things are better and I'm glad I switched to Linux over Vista or bought a Mac. Maybe you could be better off too?

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What kind of Home Server would you choose?

Windows home server - now its easy to keep and share documents, photos, videos and music

So I heard Windows Home Server is now ready to ship according to Paul Thurrott. As some of you already know I'm running pretty much every machine on my network on gnu/linux except my home server. Its strange, my laptop, my workstation and even my firewall/router is running Smoothwall. But the server which holds terabytes of storage is actually running a beta copy of Windows Home server. But my reason for sticking with Windows Home server have finally started to come undone. A friend sent me a link to a few projects including the Ubuntu Home Server Project and Linux home server. This all started by George Ou and his discussions about the difference between the two. George has added updates to the main post and people have gone nuts over the comments (260 to date). There's even the poll which has 2600+ votes is 56% towards linux or freebsd over windows home server. So after some more reading I'm thinking now has come the time to either upgrade or switch over.

Now I wish the switch was that easy. First up I will need to unmount all the harddrives from the Windows storage array and make sure my data is ok. Then I need to take the machine down from the loft and remove windows before putting on Linux. Before going back in the loft I need to make sure I can get back into the machine even when there is a power outage or some kind of error (its a dell with boot after suspend, so it should be ok). But it will be all worth it if I only need to go up to the loft to add addional storage.

So what options do I have? Well I was hoping the Ubuntu Home Server Project would have files or a beta to play with, but not yet. So i'm thinking keep it simple. Xubuntu or Ubuntu desktop version with some well thought-out software. Hey if it works out, maybe I could feed into the process of the Ubuntu Home server project? I was considering the server version but I'm thinking although I will run it headless most of the time, it would be good to be able to run Xwindow for VNC/RDP access. For Backup I'm going to try Amanda again or Bacula. If worst comes to worst, I now got the hang of the Cron and Rsync, I could just use that. On the storage front, I have no idea how to setup a distributed file system like windows home server on linux, but I've done little research and I'm sure someone knows. Sharing is not a problem because Samba shares can be installed easily enough, I also don't really need Universal Plug n Play, specially if I can get Daap working in Amarok or Rhythmbox working. Ideally I would love to have some simple web front end, but once again this is going to take some more research.

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In need of a Holiday…

Midnight Sun

So I'm having a bad day, so rather that rant on about life I thought I'd catch up on some news and blogs. Obviously some of this has caused me to write a few blog entries. I've been in need of a holiday for a while now, I was planning to go to Portugal last week (Hence my Dopplr feed was kind of correct but not). (People have been saying I've been looking a little sleepy for the last few months, and I can certainly say I've not been sleeping all that well but thats the way it goes). But that was before buying a new Fridge Freezer, the old one has not been working for along time now and it was long overdue.

So where best to get a very cheap Holiday? The Web and I'm hoping blogs. Stowe Boyd was the one who clued me into Portugal and the joys of Lisbon out of season. It sounded amazing but I'm not finding many options for Lisbon on most of the travel sites. So if you could go anywhere warm in the next few weeks, where would you go? Oh It needs to be cheap too.

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Pay a voluntary contribution or suffer the shame?

The Real Hustle being filmed in Brighton

So I'm really late to the whole Radiohead price experiment. Many people have said how great it is, others have said there just copying what smaller artist have been doing for years on sites like Amiestreet, some of pondered interesting questions and others have moaned about the quality. But what I found interesting was Ben Metcalfe's post which asks the question Would you pay a voluntary contribution for your BitTorrent usage?

Having pushed for so long for digital distribution methods that afford us our full rights under copyright (ie no DRM), it’s kinda time that we step up to the plate and prove that today’s digital media consumers are not looking to freeload… or are we?)

I was just chatting about this issue with a heavy BitTorrent user I know well, who’ll remain anonymous. For her, she finds BitTorrent the most convenient way to select and consume media – she watches a lot of foreign TV and also occasionally enjoys watching video on her PSP (which doesn’t support any DRM-for-video technology even if the content she wants to watch is available in a DRM’d format). Downloading torrent files from sites across the world and transcoding them into a PSP-friendly format has become a simple and painless process which she finds quicker and more convenient for her needs than any DRM system out there right now.

She is frustrated that she has to use what are currently deemed ‘illegal methods’ to obtain the media and can’t do anything to legitimize the content she is viewing.

So I know Chris Anderson is writing a new book called Free but honestly if I could pay the artist or production company for my DRM free download I would. Depending on the content I would pay between 1p – 2 pounds. 2 pounds for heroes, dexter, Dr Who, IT crowd, etc. 1 pounds for Ugly Betty, Apprentice, The Real Hustle, etc. 30p for Prison Break, Daily show, etc. I would also pay for podcasters and videocasters for their efforts if it was conveient and simple.

There was something interesting I heard at the wealth of networks conference in Boston. The Social Facebook application, called Causes. So the thinking behind the causes application is that the person can indicate what causes they support. But that application also tells people if you've donated money or helped that cause recruit new members. The idea being that if your friends have all donated loads of money over months, and you nothing. You would be shamed into taking the cause off your list. Now if you imagine something like this for TV, Music and even Film I guess? (I know Tioti is thinking about badges to indicate you like a certain show) you could have some site like or tioti/sharetv which tracks your tv/music but also shows when you donated money or helped out in someway. I guess the people who just want stuff for free will not sign up, but for the rest of us this is a way of showing your really a fan and enjoyed the show so much you paid or did something in return. This would also show the producers how popular there show/tune is and you could build grassroot graphs and charts I guess. If the real hustle series 1 rakes in a load of money and series 2 double that, you know your doing something right. If its less and less then its time to change something or give up. Its like voting for a show but the financial decision means votes are not given in vain or lightly. Hey and its helping out the people who work really hard. Just a idea, not really formed yet.

I'm not really a fan of Radiohead, but if this helps the content producers and owners into considering other business/revenue models, then put me down for 5 pounds…

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