Thursday, 22 December 2005


Google Fight : Make this fight with googleFight past VS future

A brilliant waste of time. And a different way of looking at mindshare ....

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Tuesday, 20 December 2005


TRENDWATCHING.COM: now the world's most visited source for Consumer Trends and Insights.

Definitely one of the better trend spotting sites I've seen. Maybe not a match for Cayce Pollard but it'll do.

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Friday, 16 December 2005

Gartner's Top 10 CIO New Year resolutions

CIOs need to get their IT systems in order in 2006 - Computing

Pretty forward looking set of resultions from Gartner:

Gartner's Top 10 CIO New Year resolutions

1 Educate your business about the second internet revolution, including web-based applications

2 Establish which systems need not be migrated, upgraded or replaced

3 Aim to deliver major innovative projects by 2008

4 Communicate crucial projects and strategy changes to your team and board

5 Start a significant software-as-a-service implementation as a trial and education exercise

6 Organise outstanding issues relating to legacy, merger and acquisition-related IT systems

7 Review IT capitalisation with chief financial officer

8 Brand IT as a key service or function in the business

9 Refresh meetings with the chief executive

10 Check out some 2006 hot technologies, particularly related to delivering IT with a service-oriented architecture.

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Tuesday, 13 December 2005



A great way to bring a geographic dimension to dispersed communities.

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Tuesday, 6 December 2005

Long Bets

Long Bets [ On the Record: Predictions ] - a brilliant site that managers bets between individuals on the "big issues" (and some not so big) of the future - like AI, alien life, genetics, holidays on the moon etc. Whilst viewers can agree/disagree its a pity they can't enter their own target date for an event, that would make it even more Delphic like.

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Friday, 2 December 2005

NewsGlobe takes off!

newglobe screenshot

When we issued the Daden newsletter at the end of October we reported that NewsGlobe was doing well having had around 50,000 hits since its launch in July. Casually checking the logs at the end of November we discovered that it had been hit over 330,000 times in November alone. Needless to say we're busy working out how to monetarise the app!

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Monday, 28 November 2005

Monday, 21 November 2005

Amazon Mechanical Turk

Amazon Mechanical Turk follow's Googles Any Quention Answered service by allowing people to submit tasks to be done, and others to do the task and post the results in return for (micro) payment. The difference is that mTurk uses a web services interface so that a program can submit a question and then post the answer back to the client, as though the machine has worked it out! Not sure about a 7 day latency though.

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Tuesday, 15 November 2005

Birmingham Post - 051101 - iMode

It started with “i can buy you flowers”, went through “i am big in Japan”, and now the posters declare “i have arrived”. O2's i-mode service is here, but should the posters really be saying “i'm too late.”?

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Monday, 14 November 2005

info namespace

The new The "info" URI Scheme for Information Assets with Identifiers in Public Namespaces coul dbe one of the most important documents goings as it provides a standard for the semantic web in referencing "things" rather than attributes. For instance a book could become info:isbn/16298753X, then every semantic web application would know you're talking about the same book, Amazon could provide a web service to let you see its price, and you could dynamically create reviews from every mention of that book on the planet. Wonderful.

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Wednesday, 9 November 2005

Response rates

The DMA has just pubilshed its latest response rates survey. Key summary:

"Response rates for Direct Mail as a whole are 11.6 per cent.
This is the average across 3,942 campaigns in both business-tobusiness
(B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C). This includes
375 campaigns – 9.5 per cent of the total - that achieved
outstanding results of 30 per cent or more. Removing these
campaigns produces a more realistic average of 6.7 per cent.
The average response rate for B2B Direct Mail campaigns
stands at 10.9 per cent, but this includes 86 campaigns (5 per
cent of the total) with response rates over 50 per cent.
Excluding these reduces the mean response rate to 7.7 per
cent. Excluding all campaigns with a response rate above 30
per cent (a further 73 campaigns representing 4 per cent of the
total) further reduces the mean to 6.2 per cent.
For B2C Direct Mail campaigns, the overall average response
rate was 12.1 per cent. There were 105 campaigns – or 5 per
cent of the total – which achieved a response rate above 50
per cent. Removing these brings the mean response down to
8.9 per cent. If the further 112 campaigns (5 per cent of the
total) which pulled over 30 per cent are also excluded, the
overall average response rate for consumer Direct Mail falls to
7.1 per cent."

The US DMA does a similar report.

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Anthro 'zine

Welcome to ANTHRO #2!

An on-line SF/future human 'zine.

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Monday, 7 November 2005

Just click to record.....

TiVo, Yahoo Deal Connects -

Now that's what I call ease of use and integration. Just click on the Yahoo TV listings link and your TiVo will record the show.

The big debate emerging though is whether home based recording or centralised recording is the way to go. Just got the flyer through for Telewest's TV Slave servcie today - they record the whole weeks output for you (well "popular programmes"), for you to watch at your lesiure over the next 7 days. PromiseTV does a simialr thing, but in a potentially home sized box. Just as I wanted to buy a PVR too....

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Thursday, 3 November 2005

In Soviet Russia

In Soviet Russia jokes are the subject of much debate on Robitron at the moment as tests of chatbot grammar handling. For instance:

In America, you watch television. In Soviet Union, television watches you.

In America, you check books out of library. In Soviet Union, library checks you out.

In California, you can always find a party. In Russia, The Party can always find you.

Invented by Yakov Smirnoff apparently.

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As We May Think - 60th Birthday

vannevar bush

As We May Think was the classic essay by Vanevaar Bush written 60 years ago in 1945 that introduced the concept of the MEMEX:

"Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and to coin one at random, ``memex'' will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory. It consists of a desk....."

Well he got the last bit wrong, take a laptop, a WiFi connection, The Internet and some Web 2.0 applicationsand we're almost there.

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Wednesday, 2 November 2005

Thought Treasure

ThoughtTreasure commonsense knowledge base

Very interesting, exactly what I'm trying to build up in triples. They've even got the dimensional stuff in there.

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An architecture of diversity for commonsense reasoning

Technical forum

An architecture of diversity for commonsense reasoning - a seminal paper by half of IBM, including Minsky, Lau and Mueller.

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Yahoo's Keyword Extraction service

Term Extraction Documentation for Yahoo! Search Web Services

Likewise, might have some AI uses - although it really looks as though its just reducing noise words.

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Tagyu :: Your tags, smarter

A dynamic tagging system. Content looks pretty sparse at the moment though. Could be a use for it in AI by finding new discussion topics and helping the conversation to flow.

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Friday, 21 October 2005

When Reality Blurs - BPost 051004

Ever wanted to be a roadie, a film star, a CEO? Now you can be. With 20Lives the Nokia Game, whose loss I lamented here a year ago, is back.

The premise is simple. Every day you play one of 20 different lives. Living out a day in the life of one of the characters. The nicest touch is that all of the game is in a first person perspective, you see people and places only through your character's eyes – and there are a lot of people talking right in your face. Each of the lives is interlinked, inhabiting the same city. You'll play one character one day, only to find yourself encountering that same character the next day whilst you're in somebody else's skin. Useful information comes fast and without warning, and you soon learn to keep a pen and paper handy.

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Thursday, 20 October 2005


google home page in 2084

The New York Times > Opinion > Image > Op-Art

Nice one.

***Imported from old blog*** - on demand music radio's The Sundays virtual radio channel

Just like the virtual radio stations on MusicMatch, but a simpler client and less hassle. Just type in a band name and they play you music like that band. Type in The Sundays, and hey-presto an Annie Nightingale/ Jane Gazzo replacement. Much better than the new Dream Ticket.

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Tuesday, 18 October 2005

omniGraffle and Anthracite

Mapping with Anthracite and OmniGraffle

Some nice Mac visualisation and dat aminign tools here. Now where's the PC equivalents.

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Blog Usability

Weblog Usability: The Top Ten Design Mistakes (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

Good article (as ever) by Jakob Nielsen on good blog design. I think I only fall foul of 3 of his Top 10 mistakes. So look out shortly for my biog (although I'm sure that's linked in somewhere, my photo (ditto), and a postings greatest hits!

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Wednesday, 12 October 2005

Monday, 10 October 2005

Science Visualisation

Slide Show: Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge 2005

Wonderful collection of diagrams and images illustrating various aspects of science. An annual competition.

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TMRA 05 - Topic Maps Conference

TMRA'05 %u2014 first day | Larsblog

Good write-up on the recent Topic Maps conference in Leipzig.

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Friday, 7 October 2005


Mightyv is another web based EPG.

(this is what comes of entering the BBC Backstage TVAnytime competition. Our chatbot based talking EPG is called Charlotte.

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Homebrew PC bsed PVR. Very nice.

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Thursday, 6 October 2005

Monday, 3 October 2005

Wax Audio


This is where the George Bush Imagine came from.

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Radio 1's Blue Room

Oh well, in the absence of Jane Gazzo looks like I'll have to hang out in Radio 1's The Blue Room.

Their George Bush version of Lennon's Imagine was wonderful!

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Friday, 30 September 2005

The Birth Of The NewsMaster: The Network Starts To Organize Itself

The Birth Of The NewsMaster: The Network Starts To Organize Itself - Robin Good' Sharewood Tidings

Interesting paper on RSS and EPIC related issues.

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Jane Gazzo's Last Show


Just listened to Jane gazzo's last show. An Annie Nightgale for our age. Just great to listen to late at night or the next day on Listen Again. Just great Indie music. The poor girl was in tears.

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Wednesday, 28 September 2005

Answering Subcognitive Turing Test Questions:

A cracking paper by Peter Turney on how to use Google hit counts to solve some AI problems.

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The arrival of the MegaTraveller canon on CD-ROM is giving me a real case of Traveller-itis, despite my experiences with GURPS Traveller. If you've never come across Traveller, THE SF role-plyaing game, check out the Traveller Web Portal -, Marc Miller's site at, and of course my own Traveller site at

I still dream of that all encompassing Traveller virtual reality.....

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Alaskan Penguins and dumbed down searches

Interesting that 4 of the top 10 results for a Google search of "effect of oil pollution on the penguin population of alaska" are now pages discussing Autonomy's Mike Lynch's comments about dumbed down searches.

Mind you Google does a good job of routing users to articles on Penguins in Antartica, and picking up articles on oil effects in Alaska on aquatic birds.

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Aleksander's five axioms of consciousness

Guardian Unlimited | Life | Scientists start work on thinking robot

Went to Igor Aleksander's lecture on the Emergent Mind at Imperial College last night (strange to go back to my alma mater after 20 odd years - and I'm there again next Tuesday!). Whilst most of it was about neural networks, he also talked about his 5 axioms (note nothing about communications!)

Aleksander's five axioms of consciousness

Axiom 1: a sense of place
We feel that we are at the centre of an "out there" world, and we have the ability to place ourselves in the world around us

Axiom 2: imagination
We can "see" things that we have experienced in the past, and we can also conjure up things we have never seen. Reading a novel can conjure up mental images of different worlds, for example

Axiom 3: directed attention
Our thoughts are not just passive reflections of what is happening in the world - we are able to focus our attention, and we are conscious only of that to which we attend

Axiom 4: planning
We have the ability to carry out "what if?" exercises. Scenarios of future events and actions can be mapped out in our minds even if we are just sitting still

Axiom 5: decision/emotion
Emotions guide us into recognising what is good for us and what is bad for us, and into acting accordingly

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Wednesday, 21 September 2005

Nokia 20Lives - Life 3

This is a bit more like it, playing papparazi Gonzo Barber you have to track down and photograph rising star Sarah Nichols. To find out what she looks like you have to do a real Google search. If you're lucky you get to Tanya Hayes - as featured in Fuzzolicious, a spoof site with Sarah's photo's on it.


Just what all the other Sarah Nichols in the world make of this interest I've no idea. The final part of the Life, chasing around Rome on a moped getting and delivering favours against the clock to get to the party was fun too.

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Monday, 19 September 2005

Loebner 2005 Results

The Loebner 2005 results are out, the Bronze prize being won by Rollo Carpenter's Jabberwocky. However there was no silver/gold winner (as usual - i.e no judge scored a chatbot more highly than a real human). Highest chatbot score was 40, lowest humna score was 55. Lowest chatbot 2!, highest human 98!

Must have a look at the historical data to see if the chatbots are actually geting better (or the people worse!).

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Return to the Moon - 2018 -- Moon-to-Mars Plans Emerge: New Agenda or Apollo Retread?

NASA's due to announce the plans today. Just hate the "do anything" CEV approach rather that having tuned components for each job.

"Aspects are somewhat vintage Apollo in approach, but with numerous technical twists. For example, a four-person lunar expedition crew would make use of a Crew Exploration Vehicle that is outfitted with solar panels. The astronauts would rendezvous in Earth orbit with a pre-launched Earth Departure Stage, and then make the outbound voyage to the Moon."

"Once in lunar orbit, all four crewmembers would ride down to the Moon in a lander. They would depart the Crew Exploration Vehicle, putting it in autopilot mode as they spend seven days on the lunar surface."

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Friday, 16 September 2005

The Singularity is Near


Ray Kurzweil has just launched a new web site to promote his new book The Singularity is Near.

From the blurb: " The Singularity is an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly nonbiological and trillions of times more powerful than it is today—the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity."

Might be interesting to start running a poll as to when people think the singularity might happen.

As to what comes after, well that's another book...

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Monday, 12 September 2005

Nokia - 20 Lives

Nokia has just announced Nokia 20Lives, the replacement for Nokia Game. The game runs 19th Sept - 13th Oct, and everyday players play the part of one of 20 lives/careers, with by the looks of thinsg a variety of Flash games/tasks to compleete each day. The demo "life" has you copytyping an auto-cue prompt and assembing a TV commercial from a bunch of video clips. Oh well, we'll see what it's like and maybe the girls can play it for me.

Not quite the same as Flo and Tragamin though.

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Friday, 9 September 2005

The Web - Have It Your Way: Birmingham Post 6 Sep 05

A major trend in technoculture at the moment is the remix. We've all grown used to DJ remixes dominating the dance floors – but the remix, or mash-up in US geek speak – is now appearing almost everywhere. The reason is that the cost of the technology needed to re-edit existing material has plummeted. Star Wars fans have used desktop PCs to create a Jar-Jar Binks-less A Phantom Menace, anime fans have cut video-game footage to fit their favourite pop songs, and machinema enthusiasts have used commercial game engines like Quake and Halo to create their own video soaps. Now, though, it's happening to the web.

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Wednesday, 7 September 2005


BBC - Press Office - Mark Thompson Edinburgh International Television Festival 2005

"In 2006 - of course subject to scrutiny and approval from our Governors and all necessary consents - we hope to launch a new offering with the working title of MyBBCPlayer, a window through which licence-payers will be able to access a host of BBC content. The last seven days worth of programmes from BBC Television and Radio. "

Now that's worth waiting for!

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On-line Buyer Behaviour

The Slow Tail: Time Lag Between Visiting and Buying (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

Fascinating article from Alertbox on some ebuying research. Highlights are:

- Average conversion from a search ad click is 2%
- 50% of conversions happened in 28 minutes!
- 75% of the conversions occurred within 24 hours
- Orders didn't reach the 90% mark until 12 days
- it took four weeks to reach 95%.
- After two months, 99% of orders had been received
- final percent gained during the third month.
- For items costing less than $100, 90% of orders were received within eleven days.
- For items costing more than $300, it took eighteen days to reach that level.

There's a good chart summarising the data.

slow tail graph

Thus, the last 5% of orders happened more than four weeks after the initial click.

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Tuesday, 6 September 2005

Jeff Waynes' War of the Worlds


Forget Tom Cruise, this is the real War of the Worlds. Got back into it when I recorded it onto MP3, and the film has just kept it front of mind. Might even get Joanna into it too.

Update 20/10: They're doing a live version at Symphony Hall next April, complete with Justin Hayward and video of Richard Burton. Must see!

Buy now from Amazon!

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Redemption Ark *

redemption ark cover

Third book in Alastair Reynolds space saga. Revelation Space was an OK start, Chasm City was really good. ........but Redemption Ark was pretty poor and almost had echoes of EE Doc Smith with its "my momentum suppressor works better than your momentum suppresor" chase through space. Pity.

Buy now from Amazon!

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The Dice Man ***

the dice man

Not a bad book at all, if a little extreme in places. The premise is simple, a man decides to live his life by the die, but the fact that he's a psychiatrist, and that alll his friends are psychiatrists, mean that the book can explore issues about the fragmentation of personality, what it is to be a self, etc.

Buy now from Amazon!

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Monday, 5 September 2005

CS Lewis Ransom Trilogy


Spent most of the Holiday reading CS Lewis' Ransom trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet, Voyage to Venus, and That Hideous Strength.

The trilogy starts OK, but gets worse. Very much of its time (or even after its time).

Buy now from Amazon!

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danish holiday home

Had a great holiday with the family in Denmark. The Danes own masses of well holiday homes, some exceedingly well appointed, and by late August very cheap. Ours boasted (apart from 4 bedrooms) a swimming pool ( 15 sq m), sauna, hot-tub, and solarium. It sat in a lovely wood and was a pleasant 3km cycle ride from the 60km long beach at Henne Strand. What got us most was how quiet and peaceful the whole place. Even Esjberg - Denmark's 5th city, was quieter than Moseley on a Sunday afternoon.

henne beach

Also there were wind-turbins everywhere. Our first sight of Denmark as an 80 turbine off-shore windfarm, but 3 - 12 - 20 strong farms where everywhere. Perhaps that's where we've gone wrong in the UK - we try and put turbines out of sight on lovely hills rather than just park them outside of every village the way the Danes and Germans appear to do. Anyway Denmark is well recommended for a family holiday - check out Novasol for details.

Rive cathedral tower

And we never even went to Legoland!

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Katrina and Google Maps

Katrina Information Map

If you want to see the power of web based GIS applications take a look at this dynamic GIS bulletin board for the survivors of Katrina based on Google Maps.

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Thursday, 25 August 2005

GoogleAds - The Haiku's Of Marketing

Had an article in Marketing this month looking at GoogelAds, and how they present marketeers with similar challenges to Haiku's. Read the full article below.

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Wednesday, 17 August 2005

RDF Primer

The RDF Primer.

Still prefer XTM :-(

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Business Model for the Semantic Web

Business Model for the Semantic Web - Design Issues

Tim Berners Lee's seminal paper on the Semantic Web.

Also check out:


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RDF Topic Sources is a great source of RDF files, covering things like famous people, kings and queens etc. Ideal Halo fodder.

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SchemaWeb - RDF Schemas Directory

A home for RDF ontologies, and good links to the semantic web.

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Piggy Bank

SIMILE | Piggy Bank

Silly name, but a revolutionary approach to the web, and possibly a key part of the semantic web. Piggy Bank defines "screenscrapers" which web site owners can write which convert the content of their web site into an RDF data structure which the Piggy Bank FireFox plug-in can then use in order to better access the information, combine it with other sources etc etc.

The interests for me are two fold:

1) Using it as part of ReaderBot to move to a next generation agent driven access device for visually impaired users

2) Getting my Halo AI to use it to extract information

Looks like I might have to learn OWL/RDF after all.

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Monday, 15 August 2005

Pei Wangs Non-Axiomatic Reasoning System

Pei Wang's Non-Axiomatic Reasoning System (NARS) looks like the AI "pap(i)er de jour". Must see if there are any ideas for Halo whose about to have her XTM upgrade in September.

- interesting, his categorisation logic approach is a similar, but more advanced form, of what I'm looking to do with XTM.

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Sunday, 14 August 2005

Dakine Wave

Dakine Wave - VirtualStage

This looks like an excellent computer animation package - although I'd rather see cartoon characters than pseudo-human avatars. They say you can create your own though if you've got Poser or something similar.

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Friday, 12 August 2005

Thursday, 4 August 2005

Epic 2015

Flash » Epic 2015 has been released. If you want to see a view of the future - this is it. (and don't be too suprised at the similarity to our |NewsGlobe!)

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Tuesday, 2 August 2005


Intelliseek's BlogPulse

One of the better blogosphere monitors?

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Visual Feast and Visual Famine - BPost Column 050802

Every so often an application arrives on the Internet that takes your breath away. Google Earth is such an application. Using satellite photographs taken over the last three years Google has stitched together a complete image of the Earth. A globe which lets you zoom in with every increasing detail until you can see individual buildings, gardens and even cars. And when you get down to ground level you can tilt the entire image into a relief view so that mountains rise high above you, and seas spread out before you.

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Friday, 29 July 2005

The Day After

Day after the Tornado and the letter box so far has received flyers from roofing companies, tree surgeons, builders.......

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Repliee Q1


Repliee Q1 is the closest thing yet to an Andriod. Looks a bit too much like an Auton to me.

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Thursday, 28 July 2005



We got hit by a tornado this afternoon. When I left AWM the sky was ominously dark. By the time I got home there were deep long rolls of thunder. Then sat in the study catching up on voicemails the wind suddenly came out of nowhere. Every tree in sight was swaying and bending, even the big birch outside my window. Out the front things looked even darker and beyond the houses opposite it looked like smoke was blowing through the air - I guess it must have been soil and dirt - with rubbish blowing in amongst it. The almost as quick as it had come it went. Then the doorbell rang - two trunks of our laburnum had borken off and lay across the drive. We were lucky. Further down Oxford Rd towards the school the place resembled a war zone. Two trees across Cotton Lane to the south, one across it to the north. Houses on both sides with trees on their roofs. A tree outside the school across half the road, the school sign bent at 45 degrees. I walked around the area, almost every road had a tree across it - School Rd, Greenhill, Billesley - right outside Morgam News. The track was tight though, 200m away from it and there were twigs down, but nothing big. Sounds like Kings Heath got it bad, and apparently the police have set up a triage centre in Moseley itself.

tornado track.JPG

Just spoken to one of Jo's school friends - almost all the windows in their house were blown out, all their big trees came down.

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Wednesday, 27 July 2005


Celestia: Home

One of the first big programs I ever wrote was a 3D planetarium that let you view the night sky from any point in the galaxy. The original basic code was published for the Apple II in the LIverpool Software Gazette (yes there really was such a publication). I rewrote it for the BBC Micro, and then later for the Atari ST. Now looks like Celestia does the same thing but with knobs on!

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Tourists Trips to the Moon!

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Russia's great leap for tourism - a $100m trip to the moon

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Widgets and Konfabulator


'Tis obviously the season of neat things. Konfabulator has suddenly hit the radar, partly from a Version 2.1 release that supports XMLHTTPRequest, partly because its just become registration free, and partly because they've jut been bought by Yahoo.

Konfabulator is basically a tool for creating desktop widgets - your PC ends up looking like a Mac. It also gives a taste of what Longhorn might be like, and it XML application development environment. The Widgets can be anything from RSS news and weather feeds, to Flickr or local image, earthquake alerts - just about anything you can think of.

The great thing about them (apart from being cross-Platofrm, ie Mac and PC) is that they are written in a combination of XML and Javascript. No legacy languages, and apart from the complexity that it Javascript, a real attempt to encourage more users to customise their own applications and PCs. Another contribution to the global programming mash-up that the web is becoming.

First off the stocks from me will be something to dispay my Bayesian News Reader (although I might be able to use an off-the-shelf widget for some of that), and there' always the BBC Backtage TV information, or a news alerter. This stuff just gets better and better.

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Tuesday, 26 July 2005

BBC News RSS to GoogleEarth


Finally got a BBC RSS news feed on to Google Earth.

If you've got Google Earth installed just follow this link:

If you want to use another feed, then use the Add Network Link option in Google Earth, and paste in this URL, changing the URL parameter for your feed of choice (RSS/RDF/ATOM).

Update - Looks like this little project might have some legs so I've added a page for it at the Daden site. See

I can really see Google Earth becoming a world browser. Now if only I could have it on continuous animation on a wall-screen TV.......

Supported by BBC Backstage

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Monday, 25 July 2005

Geocoding - GeoNet Names Server

NGA: GNS; Names Files of Selected Countries

They also have an on-line system, but can't find a web service yet.

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Dive Into Greasemonkey

Client side, client written scripting to mash web pages. Interesting, must look out for an application - althought he current security flaw in it may delay things a while. Too geeky for mainstream?

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Saturday, 23 July 2005


Geobloggers - the map is the territory

Just trying to get my Flickr photo's onto Google Earth.

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Friday, 22 July 2005

Simulated society may generate virtual culture

New Scientist Breaking News - Simulated society may generate virtual culture

Be interesting to see how this develops. I remember an animal based virtual world that was around many years ago - the animals used to mail you to let you know how they were doing - and even sent holiday snaps!

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Thursday, 21 July 2005

Google Earth

birmingham business park

Wonderous. Lost a whole evening last night exploring Google Earth. Our house is just on the edge on one of the lower res tiles, but the tile that covers the end of our road is so detailed you can make out individual cars and gardens and get a fine view of the church and Moseley Bog. The photo above shows my old office at Birmingham Business Park, and the car arrowed is my old Audi A3 in my parking space.

I spent the evening looking at all sorts of earth sites, from places I've been to to places I'd like to see. From Antartica to Moscow and Tokyo. Rather than post the images on this entry I'll retro-blog the ones I've been to to when I went to them.

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Our stand at sight village

Our stand at sight village

Originally uploaded by halo4256.

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Wednesday, 20 July 2005

Bayesian Perl

Automatic Document Classification With Perl

I'm getting all interested in Bayesian filtering at the moment as I'm finally going to take some time out to write the first version of the "intelligent" RSS reader I've been thinking of for ages - primarily so I can use it with VXML to deliver the news to me as a daily briefing over the phone. The paper above looks like a good place to start.

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Wednesday, 13 July 2005

Return to There


After a good few months absence I've gone back in to There. Of all the newer virtual worlds I think it's the one I like best. It's simpler than Second Life, more dynamic than Alpha World, has probably the friendliest people, and has the way coolest physics engine and hover-boards.

I really must do a comparison table of the different systems some time.

So if you bump into Corro in There some time say hi!

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Tuesday, 12 July 2005

Happy 2nd Birthday!

This blog is 2 years old. I must admit I'm suprised it's kept going since I've never kept a diary this long. But certainly since going independent the blog is an extra weapon in my arsenal, and I've also found it useful just as a scrapbook of things I've found and liked. Often when talking to people about things I'll pull up the relevant blog post - at least I now know where I've filed it.

A quick look at the July 2003 posts shows that little has changed in my interests:

- Anime and manga - Joanna's just got all the drawing books back out again, and I still love GITS and Lain
- Web pads - Nokia's almost got there, and I'm writing this on a tablet PC
- Blogs - like they've gone away! And I did move to Movable Type
- Aibo and Asimo - I've actually got an Aibo on loan in the house at the moment, and Asimo was in Brum last week
- Kurweil AI - now I've got my own Halo and the Sitepal system

The biggest difference is that now running my own business I can try and turn all of these into parts of my day job and revenue earners!

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Saturday, 9 July 2005


For ages I've been thinking about "retro-blogging" - blogging events from my past. Bringing together all my old photos, traval diaries and the like. I was surprised when I Googled retro-bloggin just now that not only were their 50 odd entries, but also the retro-blogging was really about just catching up with thing from the past few days, or at most re-posting papers and articles written a few years ago. To me retro-blogging is a whole-life blog. I won't promise to do things in order, or even do that much that quickly, but at least I've made a start before the term becomes too common!

For my first retro-blog entry check out May 1961 in the date archives at right!

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Cameraphones and News


One of the interesting aspects of Thursday's terrible attacks on London was the way in which still and video images from cameraphones dominated the coverage. As reported in the Guardian today the BBC were using amateur coverage within 45 minutes of the explosions.

It's less than 4 years since the attacks of 9/11. Then we had phone calls from passengers and office workers, a luck TV crew on the street. Think what 9/11 would be like now, thousands of images caught from the street, images from above the fire-line on the towers, final video messages from the victims, maybe even images and video of the hijackers. The overall impact would undoubtably be more harrowing, more personal. Cameraphones bypass the journalists, bringing victims and viewers almost face to face.


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Friday, 8 July 2005

ABC Radio's The Night Air

Radio National - The Night Air - Home Page

My first real podcasting find. Wonderful soundscape programme from ABC Radio in Australia. I know that Radio 3 does something similar but I've never consistently worked out when it's on.

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Tuesday, 5 July 2005

Going Backstage with the BBC/Virtualised R&D - Birmingham Post - 050628

You may have read of the BBC's plans to release some of their immense digital library onto the web Yet another BBC initiative, BBC Backstage, received less coverage but could have a greater long term impact.

Launched in May, BBC Backstage is where the BBC will open up its computer programmes to web developers. As it says on the BBC Backstage web site “we're passionate about giving designers and developers the content and services they need to create cool new things“.

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Sunday, 3 July 2005

Millennium Development Goals

delivering bread in livingtsone, zambia

The United Nations Millennium Declaration of 2000 marked a strong commitment to the right to development, to peace and security, to gender equality, to the eradication of the many dimensions of poverty and to sustainable human development. Embedded in that Declaration, which was adopted by 147 heads of State and 189 states, were what have become known as the eight Millennium Development Goals, including 18 timebound targets.

They provide the best statement so far of what needs to be done. They are:

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Make Poverty History drives towards these through:

- Cancelling debt
- Increasing responsible aid
- Building fair trade

The UN Millennium Project identifies 10 key actions to acheive the MDGs:

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Pink Floyd at Live 8


Got back from Deborah's concert in time to see Pink Floyd. Not a bad set at all, the body language was interesting though. Mason and Gilmour exchanging glances, neither looking at Waters, even when Gilmour and Waters were singing together, even when they sang:

We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have you found? The same old fears.

At the end it was Waters who appeared to be gathering the others in for the group hug.

As to the pieces, I suppose Breathe was the "dark side" cloud pleaser - prototypical Floyd, Money was always the favourite before The Wall, Wish You Were Here was as always "for Syd", and Comfortably Numb is again in the Top 3.

What I think was missed though was a chance to really to visuals that did the songs and the even justice. One thing that struck was how the lyrics did echo the cause, especially if they'd added something like Dogs. Money was just crying our for Debt images, Comfortably Numb (as at Aseriti) just summed up the worlds attitude, or at least of its leaders.

The track they really should have sung though was The Tide Is Turning (After Live Aid). OK it's a Water's track so unlikely to be picked, but I'm sure its why Waters agreed to do the event. You can't write a song like that, and then turn down Live 8. And more than anything its sums up what an event signifies. Yes the lyrics then were very Cold War orientated, but the message is still there.

Now the satellite's confused
'Cos on Saturday night
The airwaves were full of compassion and light
And his silicon heart warmed
To the sight of a billion candles burning
Oo, oo, oo, the tide is turning
Oo, oo, oo, the tide is turning
The tide is turning Billy

I'm not saying that the battle is won
But on Saturday night all those kids in the sun
Wrested technology's sword from the hand of the
War Lords
Oh, oh, oh, the tide is turning

Certainly enough to make me click through to Make Poverty History and sign up.

I'm also working my way through "The End of Poverty" by Jeffrey Sachs, certainly the closest thing yet for a poverty elimination plan.

Get the Pink Floyd at Live8 video.

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Friday, 1 July 2005

Streaming Music

Having got all the vinyl burned it's time to seek out some new music. With HMV about to close their current download service (and launch a new one), I've got to spend my 95p of credit before the end of the month. Since a track costs 99p I can't buy anything. But whole albums are typically only 11p to stream. So I can sit here and work my way through 8 albums.

Really does make me wonder why I burned all that vinyl. Say I spend 25 hours a week listening to music, that's about 25 albums, or £2.50. Over a year that's £100 for a whole HMV sized music library. No wonder bits are taking over from atoms...

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AJAX - Asynchronous Javascript and XML

adaptive path » ajax: a new approach to web applications

This i sprobably it, where so much recent software developemnt has been heading. Just as we're getting used to server driven web services along come client driven web services.

Our current approach to most development is to write everything server side, let the server call on other web services (speech systems, maps, google and amazon databases etc), and then let the server serve the finished page out to the relevant device in the relevant mark-up, HTML, Sitepal HTML for web speech, VXML for phone speech, WAP etc.

AJAX makes us of the new XMLHttpRequest Javascript command. This lets a web page go behingd the scenes to get data from another system - a web service typically - then use XSLT and Javascript to manipulate it, and then push in onto the screen using CSS and the DOM. All of a sudden the user has direct access to the data and you've skipped a link in the chain, reduced latency, buit a richer client environment and so on.

What differentiates this from old style client-server is that the client page is usually served from the server. So for instance the server core might handle initial sign on and a top level menu. Then each main application area gets its own AJAX page which can be served out to the user and take-over until they need another key bit of the application. Once we've got our GoogleMaps demo out the way we'll see about doing an AJAX demo.

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Thursday, 30 June 2005

William Mitchell - Me++ - ***

Read about this ages ago, but only recently saw a copy (although I could of course have just bought it from Amazon). From early reading looks good - one of the better books on the Internet, society and the future thing.

... not too bad in the end, some nice ways of looking at things (particularly migrating functions through different shells (clothing to buildings to domes), and plugging in/out of infrastructures (from WiFi to going to the toilet), and the notion of shedding bits and calling services to you rather than going to the point of distribution. He's on less sure ground when describing technology per se though.

Buy from Amazon (as I should have done!)

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Wednesday, 29 June 2005

Google Earth

Google Earth - Home

Pity it's not working at the moment. And just as I was about to buy the full 1km res package from Earth Explorer (Google Earth goes to 1m in places!)

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Tuesday, 28 June 2005

Microsoft Longhorn Support

longhorn rss support

Longhorn Developer Center Home: RSS Support in Longhorn

This is the spec for the RSS support that will be in the next generation of Windows (codenamed Longhorn). When Longhorn hits the streets expect the use of RSS to sky-rocket.

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aiSee Graph Gallery

Lovely site demonstrating different graph/network maps using Aisee software. Just right for topic maps....

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Monday, 27 June 2005

Clarissa - Mother of Hal?

New Scientist SPACE - Breaking News - Space station gets HAL-like computer


NASA is puttnig a voice activated PC on the space station. Not quite HAL but it's a start.

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A Google Usenet Timeline

20 Year Archive on Google Groups

Stunning, just stunning. Particularly the first mention of the WWW by Tim Berners Lee.

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Thursday, 23 June 2005

Weird cloud

Weird cloud

Originally uploaded by halo4256.

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Aibo Playground


New Scientist Breaking News - Robo-pups created with curiosity in mind

Having just borrowed an Aibo for a few weeks it was interesting to see that Sony have now put a "baby AI" in some and are rearing them in a Kindergarten.

I'll report back on my aibo experiences later.

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