Reading the Cluetrain by our PR lady

Our PR lady started reading the Cluetrain Manfesto after I gave her a copy to read. She seems to be reading through it slowly but at the same time its brought up more questions that I'd expected. So I suggested to her that she should blog internally or even externally about reading through the book. So I was kinda of shocked when she agreed… And now reading the cluetrain is born.

I think its really good to see our PR lady blogging, shes quite strange in a nice way. Kind of person who would forgive you at that moment but would never forget what you did. Anyway, shes been willing to learn about the changes online markets make to PR and thats a really good thing. Please check out her blog, as she really wants comments and constructive ideas around what she reads and blogs.

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Uncluttering your friends list

While at BarCampLondon3, I noticed there was little discussion about Facebook. This is unusual because everywhere else you go, its all about facebook. I first thought it was the influence of being in Google, but actually no. I mentioned it Rachel Clarke and she reminded me that that BarCamp is made up of people who are really in the know, the people actually doing stuff and not just talking about it. Facebook was put into its real context at BarCampLondon3 rather that most conferences where's its over hyped or talked about to death.

Anyway one of the talks I did go to talked about friends lists and how artificial they really are. One of the points which really got me, was the notion of old friends which drop off the radar. The speaker asked how many im buddies to we all have compared to how many we actually talk to? I looked at mine afterwards and saw I have close to 250 im buddies across 6 im accounts (3 jabber, 1msn, 1aim and icq, 1yahoo). Its time for a clean up. So to simplfy things, I'm sticking to just my cubicgarden gmail one and maybe my ian forrester one. If you want to talk to me on any other network (except skype) your out of luck now sorry. But it doesn't really matter, you can still email me on facebook.

Some may say this stupid or even brave, but the face was that looking at the gaim logs, most of my talking was done over the jabber network and my msn/aim/yahoo friends to be on facebook anyway. Also Miles mentioned to me today, that you can send messages via other jabber servers on to other networks now. I am tempted to im everyone on the other networks and say I'm moving but why bother? I like to think of this as uncluttering my im list using network effects. This is also a great time to do this, as having my phone im client running up to 4 different im accounts was frankly stupid.

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Windows Mobile Plaxo client now does full sync

Plaxo and Windows mobile

So after a long time beta, Plaxo has finally released a version of mobile plaxo which syncs not only contact information but calendars and tasks. You have to be Premium user which requires a yearly fee but to be honest, its not that expensive for a backup and sync solution, also its new features like pulse are interesting. Now if I can just make the change to Evolution over using Thunderbird/Lightning all would be well.

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A trend worth noting : Live Streaming from conferences

Mogulus live

The London Bubble or really the Berlinblase crew were at BarCampLondon3 in force this time around. They must have really organised there ticket collection as quite a few of them got tickets. Anyway, something which I noticed at BarCampLondon3 this time around was the use of live streaming services. One of the guys was using this site mogulus while another was using something else. At BarCampLondon3 everything was in place to make this work well, lots of power, laptops with cameras and seamless wifi. This isn't always the case but it seemed to work really well at the Google offices. Maybe in the near future its not worth taking a camcorder, as live streaming from a laptop just works. Specially when you have a webcam like mine which you can face foward or backwards.

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Twitter tracking another apml hookup?

Ok so this is going to form part of a large group of small posts about BarCampLondon3. I want to keep them small and save a chunky post about the whole event for tomorrow. But come on how great was BarCampLondon3 (geekwonderland)

So I was sitting in the session on 101 uses for Twitter and Paul Johnson mentioned Twitter Tracking. I had never heard of this before, so checked it out later and thought wow this is what I've been waiting for!

Since the beginning of Twitter and more recently, the rebirth of Search, people have said something along the lines of “it'd be awesome to search for certain words and pull up all related twitters.”

Rather than create another ho-hum search, we decided to Twitterize the idea and take it a step further: with Twitter's new tracking feature, you can track any word or concept on Twitter, and have the updates sent to your phone or iM.

This means rather that people following me for BarCampLondon3 tickets they could have just tracked barcamplonon3 or even barcamplondon4 now. This is also super useful if you could read a APML file and maybe take the top 5 concepts / take concepts over a certain number and automaticlly build twitter trackings for them. Maybe this would be cron'ed or scheduled or automated so as you change the APML file, tracks would be removed and new ones added?

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BitTorrent and PBS Pair up for Distribution

Public Broadcast on a public tracker: BitTorrent, Inc. received an endorsement of sorts from the US government, as the subsidized television network PBS (Public Broadcasting System) has agreed to distribute shows on the BEN (BitTorrent Entertainment Network). The announcement made today will bring many of PBS' more popular shows to the online store.

Is there an arguement that every public broadcaster should be doing this with content they have 100% cleared? Hummm what happened to our deal with Zudeo/VuzeTribbler?

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A solution to my Dell Laptop Suspend problem? Solved!

Dell M1210 Ubuntu power configs

Ok yes its partly my fault but I seem to have power control panel for KDE and Gnome working on the same machine. If I use just the Gnome settings and close the lid of my laptop, it will lock up and the only way to get back to normal is to power the laptop off again (aka hold the power button in). If I use the KDE power setting and close the lid of my laptop, it powers down correctly and when I open it up again, I get Ubuntu exactly where I left it after entering the user password again. Why?

Actually I'm almost not interested in the why but the how do I use KDE's Power settings instead of Gnome but still use Gnome? Right now I have to remember to start the KDE setting otherwise its back to powering off the laptop again. Oh just for bug reports and the record, I'm running Ubuntu 7.10 with Compiz Fusion (this only became a problem in 7.10). on a Dell XPS M1210 with an Intel Graphics card and restricted driver a/b/g wireless card. Everything else is fine except suspend and hibernate (which never works)

So anyone with a solution?

Glyn solved my problem. The problem is to do with the Gnome Power manager, so we disabled it from starting up in the boot manager and wrote at the end of the file /etc/acpi/

grep -q closed /proc/acpi/button/lid/*/state
if [ $? = 0 ]

This forces the Laptop to sleep when the lid is closed. Oh you should try running "sudo /etc/acpi/" from a command line to double check your machine will sleep ok. I'm planning to put up a bug report for this pretty soon.

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BarCampLondon3 this weekend


So its the weekend of the 3rd London BarCamp. This one is going to be very special because its hosted by the do no evil Google and arranged as part of BBC Backstage. Its weird because I've hardly mentioned it but have been thinking about it alot. Partly because I said a long time ago I would stop arranging them and let others take over once other BarCamps started cropping up in the UK. So I've gone back on that and decided that once there are regular overnight stay barcamps in the UK such as BarCampBrighton (good work guys).

There's been a lot of talk about the BarCampLondon Tickets once again. So let me clear up what happened. We released the tickets in 4 waves over a 2 weeks period. I counted the time from when they were open till the last of that round of tickets was gone. And I can report back that the first round announced over twitter went in 9mins (28 tickets, glad Eventwax can handle load and concurrent connections correctly). The 2nd wave we sent a email out to the Google Open source jam crowd the day before and the next day the 25 tickets lasted 13hours! On the 3rd wave another email went out to the Girl Geekdinners list the day before and the next day the tickets lasted only 1 hour 3 mins. The 4th and last wave no one was told till I twittered when there were 5 tickets left. Those tickets lasted 9hours. So in total all the tickets went in less that 24 hours and thats with just a couple of twitters and emails. Almost 500 people follow me on twitter and I expect that will drop after this post, because if you want to get the tickets you need to do more that just follow me on twitter.

The Reserved list idea was my idea to stop people emailing me asking for spare tickets. And its partly done the trick. Unfortually theres been little drop out (a total of 6 so far believe it or not). I have had some good and bad emails including one which was threating (which I'm not sure was a joke or not, so I deleted it).The reserve list is serving its purpose because we're able to make changes to right up to the last few days.

So the 3rd BarCampLondon is going to be something special, Google really have a great office and they have stamped there unique personality over it. From the 4th Floor to the 6th Floor its as bright and colourful as you'd imagine Google would be. But whats extra impressive is the extras Google and the BBC have planned. That's all I'm going to say for now. Its going to be amazing and trust me the best so far.

See you lucky ticket holders this weekend, the rest of you I'll hopefully see you at the Christmas party?

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Erasing my digital memories

As part of the deal with my new phone, I can trade in any old phone for a load of money. So rather that trade in my lovely SPV M700 which I want to keep as a spare phone or sell for a lot more, I'm going to sell my Ericsson R520m. I was planning to sell my old Ericsson T68 but it doesn't seem to be working any more. The R520m was bought off contract for 200 pounds the day it came out (never to be repeated again). I loved the phone, it had everything including GPRS, Bluetooth, Infrared, SyncML and Speakerphone. It also had that unique sensor pads which meant you could answer the phone with a swipe of the hand.

Whats special about the phone is that I had some great times playing with the phone and it lasted a very long time (9 years now). It also had some great voice memos on it from things I couldn't remember at the time. One of the most memorable was the very first voice call from Sarah, dating back to 18th March 2002. At the time I kept it because I found it funny to hear how Sarah miss said the road name but now its somewhat sad because we didn't stay together and its strange to go back to almost the point where everything started. How much stuff like this do we delete everyday? Stuff we should be archiving or saving somewhere? Our digital memories are just as important, specially for someone like myself whos grown up using such technologies all the time.

I had a scare when I got back from Berlin, my home server had crashed and burned. Grub was screwed and I couldn't work out why. So anyway, I've stuck xubuntu on the box and everything safe but I don't know what I would do if I lost all my photos etc. I know I have copies on CDs and DVDs but not the latest stuff. I really need to get Amazon S3 into my rich media syncing soon.

The video above was shot on my new phone at lowest quality and everything is done in one shot. Enjoy.

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Explaining APML to Suda

APML icons

It started at BarCampBerlin2. Brian Suda asked me if I knew much about APML and could I explain why I thought it was of interest to myself and others. And ended up with Brian creating an excellent XSL to generate microformat complete tag clouds and lots more.

Along the way, Brian created some excellent little icons for APML and suggested a load of clever things he felt APML could be used for outside of the use cases the APML group have pulled together already. I did ask Brian at the time if it was ok to record his thoughts for a blog entry later and he agreed so he's some of things he mentioned.

  • APML could be useful for recommendations inside of Bloglines and Google reader but even better for something like Google News.
  • APML could be useful for checking for new groups when you newly sign up to Flickr, Facebook, etc. So it could be used as a means of discovery
  • APML could be used as a personal page rank. So when you search google it would take into account your perferences of APML
  • In ways to help gnerate the information for APML, Brian thought some global/desktop widget which you could click when you find something interesting. I was thinking it could be like a thing you drag web pages into. We also thought it could be a simple Firefox extension too. Brian also thought you could use ambient non-user time technology like etherpeek to grab data from unencrypted network traffic. This seemed perfect for the explicit section of APML.

Brian and me also talked about APML lite. Brian seem to think it would be possible to generate APML lite using just Microformats (hCard + hReview). I'm not so sure this would work but Brian promises to create a few examples soon. I'm still keen to do APML lite in RDF/A. Ether way, it APML is getting more accpeted everyday and its role in data protability will be a big one. Look out for more APML use cases soon.

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No Gphone, so I upgraded to the HTC TyTN II

HTC Kaiser

So after Google confirmed that the Gphone is not an actual phone but a open operating system for the next generation of mobile phones.

I decided to use my long awaited Orange upgrade. This time I went for pretty much the same phone as I already own but with better specs and a physical keyboard. I love my Orange SPV M700 but I started to find the internal memory a little small (64meg) the TyTN II has 160meg which is very roomy but not quite the 256meg which is starting to appear. Also now I have the 5 pound for unlimited (1gig) evening and weekend data, I'm finding myself using im, rss, email a lot more that before. A onscreen keyboard is only so good and my bluetooth keyboard sits in my bag alongside my laptop. So the other day when I was waiting to pick up my friend Claire from the Airport in Berlin, her flight was delayed by 2hours. I could have wrote a blog entry but found it slightly painful on my stylus and onscreen keyboard. If I had my bag with me, I could have used my bluetooth keyboard but to tell the truth if I had my bag with me, I would have had my laptop too.

I was going to do some unboxing video but these guys have already done such a good job. I also did some reading into HSDPA also known as 3.5G. It seems capable of up to 4meg a second transfer, wow! Theres a instant downside, however. Orange stuck there nasty today screen as default on the device and I don't seem to be able to get the full TouchFLO interface. The device is also feels almost twice as heavy as my M700 and wheres the VGA display? I would have waited for the GloFiish devices but there was no way I could afford to buy off contact.

So anyway I look forward to the next 12 months with my new non-iphone or Gphone. I also look forward to much better written software for the Windows mobile 6 platform as it seems to have APIs into everything now including GPS, HSDPA, etc.

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Tracking fingers with the Wiimote

One of the guys at BBC R&I sent this around today. I only just watched this today but I'm really amazed. This is awesome stuff and reminds me I need to get my Wiimote working with my Ubuntu boxes.

I've also been thinking, everyones using that pinch movement/behaviour to indicate scale but what other interactions/behaviours? Is there more which have yet to become standard? Maybe a cycle of the fingers in tandum could indicate master volume or something more? Maybe 3 fingers down the screen could indicate something which should be deleted and 3 up something to be uploaded. The beauty of this low cost setup is that anyone can play and make up there own commands, its no longer just in the research labs. This is great and I'm always in favor of that.

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Suicide bombings virtually, same as in reality?

Found via Bruce Schneier's blog. An awesome thought about how the psychological make up of being the underdog in a asymmetrical war forces you to rethink the sacrifice involved.

Interesting and thoughtful article about suicide attacks in the online video game Halo 3:

Whenever I find myself under attack by a wildly superior player, I stop trying to duck and avoid their fire. Instead, I turn around and run straight at them. I know that by doing so, I'm only making it easier for them to shoot me — and thus I'm marching straight into the jaws of death. Indeed, I can usually see my health meter rapidly shrinking to zero.

But at the last second, before I die, I'll whip out a sticky plasma grenade — and throw it at them. Because I've run up so close, I almost always hit my opponent successfully. I'll die — but he'll die too, a few seconds later when the grenade goes off. (When you pull off the trick, the game pops up a little dialog box noting that you killed someone “from beyond the grave.”)

It was after pulling this maneuver a couple of dozen times that it suddenly hit me: I had, quite unconsciously, adopted the tactics of a suicide bomber — or a kamikaze pilot.

It's not just that I'm willing to sacrifice my life to kill someone else. It's that I'm exploiting the psychology of asymmetrical warfare.

Because after all, the really elite Halo players don't want to die. If they die too often, they won't win the round, and if they don't win the round, they won't advance up the Xbox Live rankings. And for the elite players, it's all about bragging rights.

I, however, have a completely different psychology. I know I'm the underdog; I know I'm probably going to get killed anyway. I am never going to advance up the Halo 3 rankings, because in the political economy of Halo, I'm poor.

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Open Standards for Open Data Portability

I love it when technology you've been backing finally start to mesh together to form a better experience. Well in that same vein, comes – the open standards stack for the ubiquitous sharing and remixing of data.

All the expected standards are there including OpenID and RSS. Theres a nod towards inclusion of ubiquitous microformats like hcard and xfn which is a good idea. I would have liked to have seen FoaF and ATOM but Opml is also included which is used wide enough for it to be included. Then we have the newer kids on the block. Oauth, APML and Yadis.

I learned quite a lot about Oauth while in Berlin so can certainly give it the thumbs up now. Its basiclly like Open ID for data exchange. The best example of how it works is like how Flickr allows 3rd party applications to talk to it by authenticating them via the user first. So for example you could allow a upload tool read and write to your flickr but only let read from them. APML i'm a large backer of from day one, when I discovered it in Particls/Touchstone (at the time). Yadis is new to me but I see its made up of things like LID and OpenID. Its bascilly a way to tie together your identies online. So you can specify openID and lightweight ID in the same file. I'm sure you could even add things like Jabber ids and other type things in the future.

Anyway, all these specs are very open and worth palying

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