How good is the rendering on the Sony Ereader?

close up on the Sony Ereader

People keep saying, well I use to read ebooks on my x device and that had a screen resolution of y by z. Well fine but its not the same, trust me I know. I use to read ebooks on my ipaq's and even the compaq areo before that. There resolution was low at 320 by 240, it did work but boy was it bad. Most people say you just need more rez and screensize. Well I've tried it on my HTC Touch HD which has a massive rez of 800 by 480 on a 3.8 inch screen and hell I even bought a Apple ipod Touch to see if that would work and both worked but once again its not the same as a read ereader. 5inch and above is certainly good but its not about the resolution exactly. Looking at a LCD doesn't work very well for reading black on white text and switching it to white on black is even worst for extended periods. Don't get me wrong as I type this now I'm typing black text on to a sandy colour backdrop but reading 300+ pages while in a public setting like a coffee shop. No thanks. Nope eink technology is amazing and till you can effectively change the screen quicker that once per second and add more that 12bit colour the ereader has to be separate device.

You can see more pictures taken here. I might have to get my Canon out when I get back from holiday to see what I can do with a super macro function.

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Pablo the drugs mule dog spawns a meme

I got to say I like the Talk to Frank anti-drugs adverts (although there more about drugs education that anti drugs, which is maybe part of there success). They've been on UK tv for a while but because I don't watch much live TV, I tend to miss clever advertising like this one. But whats more interesting is the meme its created on the web. There's some amazing remixes which work in a similar way to the Pablo advert. For example here's the best one, Perdo the Drug Dealer Cat because cats are too smart to be drug mules according to the comments. There's also other Pablo videos including Cocaine bag tries to seduce Pablo the dead drugs mule and Ben's Banknote. All good stuff.

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Movies are a metaphor for life: Some more films you may have missed

I already admitted to watching a lot of films, and had a lot of people saying some nice things about me highlighting some of the films worth watching which you may have missed. So I thought I'd run through a few more which have had me stuck to the screen. If you find the list useful, do say.

Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel – I've already covered this one in a post here. But generally its about 3 guys who find a time travel conundrum in the middle of a British pub. Smart, clever and original is all things I could say about this film which is billed as Shaun of the dead crossed with Dr Who.

Bad Guys – This heist movie starts very well and ends pretty poorly. The film starts with 4 guys in a warehouse, 3 guys and a woman. Shes got blood over her shirt and holding a gun at one of the guys who can't help but wind her up with everything he says. You later find out that the 2nd guy is a crooked cop and the 3rd guy is some chemist who has designed a new kind of drug which has the kick of ecstasy but without the downside. They just got back from some deal which went wrong when the 1st guy decided to shoot the top boss. The tension at the start is something else, but as the story line slowly unfolds so does the plot. Its a modern Reservoir Dogs at the start but ends up somewhere else by the end. Worth catching if you can, there's some great lines including the title of this blog post.

Next day air – A overnight delivery company mess up a package drop by giving it to the neighbours. The package turns out to be drugs and the neighbours some of the most daft criminals you'll ever met. Unfortunately for all parties involved the sender is a proper dealer before long, things are being sorted out. To me its like an american version of lock stock and two smoking barrels but less clever, stylish and well lock stock. Its still enjoyable and the mixup comes to some clarity at the end.

Blood and Bone – Do you remember when you were young and use to watch trashy beat-em-up films like American ninja? The plot was simple, beat everyone up and then beat up the boss. Yep you don't see many of those anymore. But Blood and Bone is simply that, a revenge movie to beat everyone up. Nothing more, nothing less. If you thought Redbelt or Kill Bill were not ass kicking enough, try this.

Chéri – Michelle Pfeiffer plays a courtesan who earns a good wage from what she does. But she falls in love with a client whos a lot younger that herself. The style is 1920's and amazing to watch on the screen. This isn't Moulin Rouge but you get the feel it could be, style wise. The story line is very easy to follow and moves along at a medium pace. Its fluffy and the journey is more important than the ending which is obvious from the very start.

Whatever Works – This film reminds me of a Might Aphrodite but with a crazy cup of reality from Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm). The funny thing is that its actually directed and written by Woody Allen. Its clever, witty and if you like Woody Allen, you will enjoy this one for its undertones of darkness crossed with beams of lightness. I did think the ending was a little plain but its a likeable movie through out.

The Cooler – The cooler is a person who puts players off there winning streaks in casinos. This cooler is the best in las vegas but when he falls in love, things start going in reverse. The lack of cooling eats into the profits of the casino and of course before long the casino try to split up the relationship. The rest is a romantic film of love and sacrifice. One for the sofa with a bottle of wine and loved one.

Chaos Theory – A surprisingly interesting romantic comedy which you can watch at home with someone else or by yourself and not feel like you lost 90mins of your life. As the title suggests its like Sliding doors but much more fun and looser. For some reason I didn't even see this one at all in the cinemas, which is surprising looking at the talent on board.

Nothing But the Truth – This is truly a Excellent film. A reporter faces jail for outing a CIA agent and not revealing her source. The whole film is tied together perfectly and the characters are very believable alongside the strong acting from the whole crew. I can't say much about the film without spoiling it but I do wish Hollywood would create more smart films like this one.

Crossing Over – I'm a sucker for these multi-character canvas drama films. This one is very close to the award winning Crash and Traffik but this one is centred around the different people trying to be legally American after crossing the border into LA. Its pretty gripping and although not quite the same league as the other two mentioned, its not far off.

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Ebooks? Great to curl up with in a coffee shop or on the couch?

Reading at the thames

Thirdly, aside from the voting-with-your-feet side of things, it is just a really nice book to own in print. It is really well made, looks stunning and feels great to curl up with in a coffee shop or on the couch.

So in the last post about Jono Bacon's ebook he wrote a part about why people should still buy the book version. The last part was the quote above. This provided the perfect start for me to talk about the Sony Ebook reader I bought almost a month ago.

I love my ereader it operates very well and hasn't let me down not even once since I got it. Pull it out, switch it on and there you have it. Is this as fast as opening a book to the right page? Maybe not but its not far off. Reading in low light and sunlight is as good as a book and does it pass the coffee shop test. I was in starbucks waiting for someone and was engrossed in the pirates dilemma that I finised chapter 4 in the time it took to finish my slighly bitter grande americano. Anyway the point of this post isnt' to compare the two. Its more a look at the book industry and ebooks.

My friend Miles shot me a troubling smile when he first saw my Ereader. Then he accused me of supporting a unsustainable business model. The problem with ebooks is that they generally cost the same amount as the paper books themselves. This isn't right and I agree. Imagine if digital downloads cost the same as there physical versions. Buy a Film for 7 pounds as a DVD and also download the same for 7 pounds, it doesn't seem right does it. I mean come on it should be cheaper simply because there's no or low manufacturing, packaging or delivery. Worst still is the lack freedom attached to ebooks. So you pay more and can do less. This is a scandal, why would anyone get involved in this?

Well I'm not! Theres a serious problem with Ereaders or Ebook readers if you prefer. Since the Amazon kindle came out its boost the awareness of Ereaders but on the other hand everyone seems to think its the only kind/approach. The Sony Ereader is arguably a very different beast and moves in different circles. You can get involved in the Ebook scandal if you choose but you don't have to. There's plenty of ebooks available without adding to the unsustainable business model. So when is it going to change? Honestly I don't know but my thoughts is that it won't get any better paradoxically till more people buy Ereaders and reject the ebook stores. Like most things the black market will fill the demand till the book publishers get a clue or get the message. The Paradox is even stranger because there's little benefit to most people with ebooks. Yes size and weight but really most people don't care. Look at Ebooks on smartphones like the iphone, android, windows mobile, etc. Its all available now but no ones really going for it. This may change, in the same way music collection balloned over time and people started using there phones. But for most people even the most perfect density or size won't make any difference. Our relationship with books is radically different from other media. I don't quite know why but the scenario of curling up with a ebook still seems quite distant for most people including I'm somewhat sad to say myself.

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Is Intercultural competence needed in online dating?

Intercultural competence is the ability of successful communication with people of other cultures.

I love what the guys at OK Cupid do, they have a very interesting social dating site. But what makes it unique is the tests/quizes and the way it monitors every aspect of what you do across the site. Don't get me wrong I know other sites do this but OK Cupid is very playful about how it does it. Anyway for a while now, OK Cupid has been presenting a fascinating looks the habits, trends and behaviours of its participations via its blog called OkTrends.

I can point you to quite a few interesting trends (How Races and Religions Match in Online Dating) (Online Dating Advice: Exactly What To Say In A First Message) but the latest trend is a bombshell and has massive implications outside of the social grazing field of OKCupid.

The takeaway here is that although race shouldn’t matter in messaging, it does. A lot.

First of all, how do we know that race shouldn’t matter? Are we just making some after-school-special assumption that “true love is colorblind?” No, we’re not: we know race shouldn’t matter to replies because the races all match each other more or less evenly, and reply rate correlates to matching.

Getting down to the meat of the issue, here's the graph of replies when there is a male sender. (by the way the gay table is coming next week)

Reply rate by race for a male sender

So going by the above chart, OK Cupid has come up with these conclusions.

  • Black women are sweethearts. Or just talkative. But either way, they are by far the most likely to reply to your first message. In many cases, their response rate is one and a half times the average, and overall black women reply about a quarter more often.
  • White men get more responses. Whatever it is, white males just get more replies from almost every group. We were careful to preselect our data pool so that physical attractiveness (as measured by our site picture-rating utility) was roughly even across all the race/gender slices. For guys, we did likewise with height.
  • White women prefer white men to the exclusion of everyone else—and Asian and Hispanic women prefer them even more exclusively. These three types of women only respond well to white men. More significantly, these groups’ reply rates to non-whites is terrible. Asian women write back non-white males at 21.9%, Hispanic women at 22.9%, and white women at 23.0%. It’s here where things get interesting, for white women in particular. If you look at the match-by-race table before this one, the “should-look-like” one, you see that white women have an above-average compatibility with almost every group. Yet they only reply well to guys who look like them. There’s more data on this towards the end of the post.

And now if the sender is female…

Reply rate by race for a female sender

And that conclusion from Ok Cupid

  • Men don’t write black women back. Or rather, they write them back far less often than they should. Black women reply the most, yet get by far the fewest replies. Essentially every race—including other blacks—singles them out for the cold shoulder.
  • White guys are shitty, but fairly even-handed about it. The average reply rate of non-white males is 48.1%, while white guys’ is only 40.5%. Basically, they write back about 20% less often. It’s ironic that white guys are worst responders, because as we saw above they get the most replies. That has apparently made them very self-absorbed. It’s interesting that white males do manage to reply to Middle Eastern women. Is there some kind of emergent fetish there? As Middle Easterners are becoming America’s next racial bogeyman, maybe there’s some kind of forbidden fruit thing going on. (Perhaps a reader more up-to-date on his or her Post-Colonial Theory can step in here? Just kidding. Don’t.)

Well what can you say to all that? There's already been 300+ comments to the blog post. Surely we're somewhat beyond this? Maybe my faith in human evolution is somewhat misplaced?

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The Art of Community Now Available under Creative Commons

Good on Jono and Oreilly for making his new book available under a creative commons licence. My Sony Ereader is now happy. Although I got to finish The Pirates Dilemma first… Jono writes,

When I started work on The Art of Community I was really keen that it should be a body of work that all communities have access to. My passion behind the book was to provide a solid guide to building, energizing and enabling pro-active, productive and enjoyable communities. I wanted to write a book that covered the major areas of community leadership, distilling a set of best practices and experiences, and illustrated by countless stories, anecdotes and tales.

But to give this book real value, I was keen to ensure the book could be freely accessed and shared. I wanted to not only break down the financial barrier to the information, but also enable communities to share it to have the content be as useful as possible in the scenarios, opportunities and problems that face them. To make this happen O’Reilly needed to be on board to allow the book to be freely copied and shared, in an era in which these very freedoms threaten the publishing world.

But they came through. Thanks to the incredible support of Andy Oram, my founding editor for the book, O’Reilly were hugely supportive of the project and our desire to break down these barriers.

I also found Jono's reasons to still buy the book interesting…

Firstly, buying a copy sends a tremendous message to O’Reilly that they should continue to publish books (a) about community and (b) under a Creative Commons license.

Secondly, it will encourage O’Reilly to invest in a second edition of the book down the line, which will in turn mean that communities around the world will have a refreshed and updated edition that is available to them.

Thirdly, aside from the voting-with-your-feet side of things, it is just a really nice book to own in print. It is really well made, looks stunning and feels great to curl up with in a coffee shop or on the couch.

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Its been a while in coming but finally TEDxManchester happened last Friday (2nd October) at my new current work place BBC Manchester. When I first planned the event it was going to a lot smaller but slowly it grew and got more complex. But the end result was certainly special and brought a nice end to the TEDxNorth collaboration. And I'd certainly like to give a tip to the hat to the other TEDx's including TEDxLiverpool and TEDxLeeds which I both attended.

On the run up to TEDxManchester we hit a few snags here and there but one of the most tricky things was getting the totally tapeless multiple camera setup going smoothly. Luckily the engineers from R&D's Ingex project came up with almost everything to get it all going. From my understanding we shot across 3 Sony EX3 cameras on to 2 separate PC machines running Ingex software in HDV 1080p at a bitrate of 100 megabits per second. There was a 4th camera shooting to SD cards too. So all this means we should have all the video of the presentations and more up within 2-3 weeks maximum. Nothing worst that having to digitise all those video off a multiple tapes.

The day started for me at 4am with me doing tweaks to the main presentation and changing a couple other things on our basecamp site. I didn't get much sleep but to be honest I've not had much sleep most of the week. By 7am me, andy and angas were moving stuff around making the space for everything to be setup. Before long it was 9am and most things were well on there way. The wireless was worrying me but after a quick switch around of routers it all came together. Everything else was moving along smoothly and before long cameras, lighting and AV was coming together. After tons of running around we started letting people in and I believe started about 5mins late.

Now its hard to go through all the talks because being backstage there's so much more going on. After Herb and Drew introduced the afternoon and Chris Anderson from TED said hi via video we were into the first video which we had choosen as the JJ Abrams magic box talk. There was a problem with the sound which almost deafen most people. Later Rowan and Tony found out the problem was the cable we were using was unbalanced and so any sound which wasn't centralsed would come out very loud. Due to this worry, the sound was kept slightly lower that it would normally. After the first three speakers it was solved.

So the first live talk was Matthew Postgate head of BBC R&D. After his talk, he left quite a nice lot of time for questions from the audience. And the questions came with a political streak. Matthew did a good job covering the questions which would have been very difficult to answer but some people did feel the answers were as expected quite stiff. The talk was on broadcasting and although good, talking to people afterwards they said he needed to just ground some of his thinking so people outside the BBC know where he's coming from.

Matthew Postgate

Next speaker was Phil Griffin who gave a great talk about architecture in and around Manchester and Salford. For a lot of people they don't realise how influential Manchester has been in the field of architecture so Phil really went to town with many shots of the city and a off the cuff talk about them. It really went down well, I'm so glad Phil was able to give the talk.

Phil Griffin

Sarah Hartly talked about journalism and the need for more participation within the field. I think she was going for something post-citizen-journalist.

Sarah Hartley

After a break and a change of audio cable, we kicked off again with a video from Alain de Boton on redefining success at TED Oxford. It actually got a clap at the end which is strange for watching a video. Following that difficult act was Dr Mariann Hardey a Social Scientist who talked about the behaviour of people using social networks and creating social media. Another good talk but not everyone was convinced. Reading Twitter, there was lots of comments sniffing at the notion of a social scientist which I thought was a real shame.

Dr Mariann Hardey

Marc Goodchild followed with lots of interesting facts and figures about children growing up in this economy and society of ours. Marc for ages had been asking me what he should talk about but I left him in the dark deliberately because I know he'd work it out and come up with something worth listening to. Thankfully I think it worked out right. A interesting talk full of perspective and knowledge.

Marc Goodchild

Ben Light gave a very surprising talk about Niche Social networks and how they influence our perspective on ourselves. He was a little worried about the amount of younger people in the audience but dived in to his talk which centred around a popular gay site called I along with others found it very interesting. I had given a similar but no where near as deep talk about (which is dating site for all) at a BarCamp last year. Someone tweeted that its good thing Marc and Ben didn't get there talks mixed up. Can't wait to see the video of this one.

Ben Light

After the final break which we reduced to catch up some time, we changed up the last video for something shorter and sweeter. So instead Herb talked about a video they had shown at TEDxNewcastle only 2 days earlier. So with some persuasion I decided to use that over the Susan Blackmore video. I love Susan Blackmore but I did agree that her 20min video might be a slow burn at this point in the afternoon plus we were already falling behind on time.

Rosie Allimonos was due to talk but called in ill a few days earlier so the magical Hugh Garry stepped in and gave I think one of the most popular talks of the day. A real power to the people talk about what happened when he gave mobile phones with good cameras to different people then asked for them back and eddied the into one. The results were highly watchable and engaging on a level which makes me smile. Well done Hugh, another video I'm hoping to watch soon.

Hugh Garry

The last speaker was Paul Coulton from Lancaster University. I had first met Paul at Over the Air last year. Paul's talk started around games and the mobile and ended somewhere over solving some of the worlds biggest problems. Impressive talk and it seems another audience favourite.

Paul Coulton

After the event, everyone headed to the Hotel Bar in the Palace for a free drink and lots of networking.

So what do others think of the event? Well I'll save that for a follow on post.

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Why I trained to be a designer…

Tim Brown says the design profession is preoccupied with creating nifty, fashionable objects — even as pressing questions like clean water access show it has a bigger role to play. He calls for a shift to local, collaborative, participatory “design thinking.”

Also worth mentioning Clive Grinyer on the Democratisation Of Design which was recorded at TEDxLeeds but the videos are not available yet.

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