Sorry all, I’m mainly offline due to my move to Manchester

My desktop says i'll be offline for half a month

If there wasn't so much unpacking to do, I'd be climbing the walls of the flat. I hope to be back online and blogging as usual by May. Also if you've sent me a email in the last few weeks, please be aware that I currently have 237 emails which are not spam or mailing lists type stuff. 1519 which are mailing lists and project updates. I will try and through them all, but its going to take some time – please bear with me.

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And winner of the poll was moi?

Final poll results

Ok bear in mind I've been offline for a while, but serious thanks to everyone who voted for me on the Techcrunch Poll. Jemima Kiss, wrote a quick write up about the poll results, and shes right. I'm pretty bad when it comes to politics. I tend to change my mind quite a bit and always say the wrong thing to get a reaction rather that say nothing. I'm aware I'm doing it but can't help it. One thing Jemima got wrong was me being a sound techie. People forget I have a design background.

Top of the bill is Ian Forrester. He's an extremely sound techie and very well connected, but a politician he is not. If the description of Highfield's job as 85% politics, 15% action is accurate, anyone that feels the need to do rather than to talk won't be very happy in that role at all. And anyway, Ian can make far more difference on the ground.

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Social games with Moby from O2

I like the idea of 02's new competition/big summer party but why did they make it so damm complex? Wouldn't it be simpler to just have the winner and all his/her friends up to a maximum of 1000 or something? Anyway judge for yourself, rachel has the low down on the whole thing.

The prize is a little complicated. Despite claiming in the introductory copy that the party is for you and 1500 friends, you actually only win a party for 100 people in the VIP section, where you get fed and watered and get a chance to meet Moby. The winner has to choose those 100 people they want to invite. The runner up gets to invite 4 people. But everyone else on the winning guest list gets a chance to get a ticket. – everyone gets an ‘invite’ and the first 1500 who reply get in. (for those keeping count, we’re up to 1605 now). Although on a different page it says only 1400 – the copy is not consistent through out, so no idea exactly how many.

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Social Enginnering at any cost?

I was waiting for my train for Manchester today at London Euston. A old woman comes up to me and asks me, if I'm from Kenya, I say no and she thinks for a second and then asks me if I'm from Africa. I say no once again and she then asks where I am from? I say the UK and she gives me a funny look and asks wheres my parents from? I say the Caribbean and in return she takes a second and says can I give her 4 pounds. I look at her and wait for her to say more about why she needed the money but it doesn't come. So I say, I only do cards, I don't have any cash at all (which if you know me well, is very true actually). Anyway, she turns away and just walks away.

The whole thing lasted less that a minute, I was thinking afterwards while running for the train so I can get a seat with a table (I got one, facing backwards). She didn't even ask for spare change or a low amount of money, I mean would you give someone you don't know a fiver for no reason? Anyway, also the repour thing was quite laughable and i'm never the kind of person who goes for that whole thing. Yo yo, were from the same city, now give me a fiver.

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Dying to comment, but won’t…

The techcrunch uk poll for the next bbc fmt director

I've kept super tight lipped about what I think of this whole thing. I mean don't get me wrong I know the poll is full of something but actually if you look beyond a certain level things get quite interesting. Add all the comments and before you know it, you got something very interesting. However I've decided it would be un-professional of me to comment in detail.

Whoever gets the position next really needs to be ready to take the BBC into the next 10 years. They need to be thinking about a lot of things but I would like to see that person also do the small things which Ashley started doing. Things like the podcast, internet blog, net netutrality support and even installing ubuntu. A commitment to more transparency is a must and one of those things why I think (only guessing) Me and James scored so highly. We blog a lot and its pretty clear who we are and our thoughts, we're not a faceless entity. I think this is critical if the BBC wants support from the British people. From the cluetrain – Companies that don't realize their markets are now networked person-to-person, getting smarter as a result and deeply joined in conversation are missing their best opportunity.. Ok enough said for now, back to downloading tons of email over a EDGE connection.

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Xbox media centre on my laptop

xbox media centre on ubuntu 7.10

Quick post to inform everyone that Xbox media centre can now be complied and run on a machine which has Compiz-Fusion turned on. When I last compiled it from source, it failed to display anything on my laptop unless I turned off Compiz-Fusion. Now its working perfectly and much faster that the Xbox. So when I do finally get settled in Manchester, I'm going to setup a dedicated box for running xbmc. HDMI is a option but I think it will be best if I just get a DVI > HDMI switcher and find a motherboard which supports optical out. The Xbmc on linux forum recommend Nvidia cards only and so does this guide. Accroding to the previous link I should be able to build a machine for less that 250 pounds. I still like the idea of using a laptop but I'm unlikely to find one with Optical out, HDMI/DVI out and a Nvidea card for less that 250 pounds.

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Ashley moves on, while people debate who should replace him

Ashley Highfield

Ok I've not said anything about Ashley Highfield leaving his position to lead on Kangaroo from director of Future Media and Technology. You know I always get into trouble for saying stuff about work on my blog, and yes I know the press could use my words as BBC employee says, but I can't help myself now I see James Cridland is winning the current vote on TechcrunchUK. I mean theres nothing wrong with some healthy non-serious competition and James will see the funny side of the whole thing.

I also didn't add any comments to the debate on techcrunch but its always good to see what different people think. It was also good to see Ashley chime in about joining the startup world and maybe going to Mobile Monday one day soon. Maybe I should send Ashley an invite to the joint geekdinner? I do have to take Mike to task about the last comment in his post.

So, here’s the deal:
Dear BBC,

What we want is your data, a lot more APIs, developer tools and your traffic.

We’ve paid for it already in the license fee.

Now get on with it.

Yours Sincerely,

The UK’s Startups

If only it was that simple…

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Whats the difference between Jaiku, Plaxo Pulse and Friend Feed?


Talking about things which are simlar. Can anyone tell me why I should sign up to Friendfeed when I'm already using jaiku as a sort of life stream and I'm already using Plaxo's Pulse? Don't get me wrong I do see some advantages to friendfeed but not enough to make me want to sign up.

I do find this area of aggregation really interesting but having already signed up to lifestreams (which I never use), Jaiku (which I read on my phone whenever I got 5mins spare) and Plaxo Pulse (which I like but am worried about the closed nature of it). I'm just not seeing anything new and interesting in Friendfeed or any of the other simlar services. Now if one of them was to create APML, I would switch in a snap.

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Desktop alerts and more


Ok I know there not exactly a like but I just don't understand why you would want to install something like alert thingy when you can use something a lot more intergrated like Specto. I can just about understand why to use Twitterfic and something like Pownce (although please stop asking to be my friend, I don't use pownce). But alertthingy… nope. Actually with Specto and Gnome-Do you can do everything twitterrific does with equal ease. Just my thoughts, obviously most of you will disagree.

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Moving to Manchester…next week

Albion Road Bridge

So its my last full week in London and I'm kind of sad and kind of happy. I've finalised the apartment I'll be renting and the relocation company are moving me at the end of next week. The apartment is just off Albion Street which is in the South of Manchester (some people call it the Knott Mills or Deansgate Locks). Its 10mins walking from work and 10mins from something which looks like the west end. I'm also just around the corner from the Haçienda and the Tram/Train at Deansgate station. Both go to Salford Quays and Piccadilly Train station. Anyone who knows Manchester might say well I'm a 15mins walk from the northern quarter. But come on, thats not far when walking home late at night, plus theres the tram and free city bus. I'm also sure a taxi would be about 5 pounds at most. That certainly beats the 30 plus pounds it would cost to go anywhere near Woolwich from Central London.

My schedule is pretty busy with the move and going back and forth between London and Manchester. On top of that I'll be at the Ability net's Accessibility 2.0 event in London, Futuresonic in Manchester, Xtech 2008 in Dublin, Thinking Digital in Gateshead and BarCampNorthEast also in Newcastle.Talking of which I also won't be at BarCampLondon4 due to a clash with a important family event.

I would have love to have gone around to see everyone in London but it wasn't/isn't possible, so instead I'm arranging my last London Geekdinner which I'm proud to announce will be with Dr. Sophie Kain from last years Apprentice and co-owener of Prior Kain.

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Talking about the Pacemaker

Its weird how I missed out on all the hype for the launch of the Pacemaker. People were even doing unboxings for the launch. I think this guy is right, the pacemaker is a fantastic device but its not quite a revolution, djs are not going to just drop what they have been doing for it. It may however attract a whole new group of people like the sweetie whos doing the review above, to maybe give it ago. If they really want to get a more general crowd the price will have to come down.

I've been checking out some of demos and tutorials and I'm still impressed but there are a couple of things which I didn't know before hand which is a little off putting. The first one is the music management, 120gig of music navigatable in only about 6 ways – this is a worry but obviously theres no keyboard so searching for tracks is going painful. Luckly it does support Mpeg3, Ogg Vorbis, Flac, Wav, etc but exactly how open device is the device? It seems to me that you can edit the filters and stuff but only using their own propitery software which is Windows and Mac only. So that really screws over someone like myself, although I guess I could run it virtualised – maybe? I heard there is a auto BPM feature but does it syncronise beats too? The loop system seems a little less automatic. One of VirtualDj features is the Automatic beat-aware LOOP function, which makes loops quick and easy.

Pacemaker Editor

I can not for the life of me work out if while recording the mix live, it also saves a metadata file of what actions you made during the mix. It does seem to keep a track of what tunes you used and in which order but does it keep times too? Currently in Vitualdj I keep a playlist open and everytime I use a tune, I also try to remember to add it to the playlist too. Then I can export it as a M3U list. Some of you might say the alternative is just a pen and paper, but it should all be automatic and live alongside the raw wave file. Maybe SMIL or XSPLIF could make sense here? Ok last thing I noticed which is a little off putting is the lack of multitouch. A trigger is a key which pushes the crossfader to the far left or far right. These are very useful for doing very fast cuts into the music. If the was multitouch, you could doing some combination like hold down the left side of the crossfafer (maybe with a thumb) and press on the right with a finger. It would then be clever enough to notice the action as a cut or trigger. Otherwise just a couple extra buttons for triggers could have been useful. Currently you have to slide from one side to another but this can get quite tiring if doing lots of cuts. Generally a multi-touch pad and some keys could allow some interesting uses when editing a loop or fx.

I think I'll get a pacemaker in the end, virtualdj is the only reason why I still keep windows on my laptop. The gnu/linux dj software are so far off its not even funny. So this would be good. I looked on ebay and there selling for more that the online store price. I do wish it had Bluetooth Stereo but I can attach my dongle to the headphone socket for use with my bluetooth headphones/headset. Its good to see it will charge over USB too, so I won't have to carry a heavy power adapter around with me if I went on Holiday. But I can't help but feel version 2 is just around the corner.

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The Kaossilator

Wow I really want one, but I still really want a Pacemaker. The major difference is the price. The Kaos is 100 pounds compared to the Pacemaker which is almost 400 pounds. Yes they do different things but there both tackling the same problem (as such). To make things even more difficult, theres the Korg Mini-KP which seems to fit between the two nicely. Hey and how cool is it to hit the streets with a miniKP pas.

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Window mobile, about time for a fix up

Windows mobile how I hate you so much. Its such a shame because the devices are so powerful and well designed in my opinion. The software is sometimes painful and in need of a clear kick up the ass. Its like windows, years and years of badly thought-out design decisions bundled into a messy operating system. Don't get me wrong its usable but only through habit.

Someone started writing a new user interface for Windows mobile a while back, called pointui. In that 0.2 alpha release was more design thought that any of the other Windows mobile releases to date.

So whats got me going? Well with Over the Air, I've been thinking a lot about mobile devices and interfaces. The iphone interface is good but also lacks any deepness. This might be fine for most people but not for an advanced user like myself. Windows mobile 6.1 is due or available now and it promises to learn from the iphone and fix its mistakes. The mistakes are best explain in this blog post from Gizmodo.

The number one biggest problem with Windows Mobile is its UI.
I have no problems with Windows itself, and I work on a Vista PC (along with a Leopard Mac) every single day. WM's problem is that it isn't Windows. Here are a few of the unnecessarily complicated attributes that Windows Mobile doesn't share with desktop Windows:

  • It's very hard to multitask
  • Closing a program doesn't really close it
  • Different builds work differently
  • If you're an advanced user, you'll eventually be able to learn how to bypass or augment certain parts of the phone with third-party applications

Actually Windows mobile's 3rd party support is its saving grace. If it had been a dead end like the iphone I would never have picked up the handsets ever. I've had about 6 generation of windows mobile / pocketpc devices and each one has been more powerful that the last.

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The two sides of Vigin Media

Thanks Sheila for this link, ISP To Voluntarily Disconnect File-Sharers, Offers Free Usenet.

Virgin Media in the UK has announced that it is working with the music industry to chase down its file-sharing customers and disconnect them from the internet. At the same time, it will offer an enhanced service which will see its customers get free Usenet binaries access, untraceable by the music industry.

I like it…very sneaky. I have been thinking about switching to Virgin Media for a while, fibre to the home (fibre optic) speeds is very attractive. I do however wonder what their download limits are? I'm still doing about 140 gig a month.

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