Friday, 10 December 2004

Internet Zero

The "next big thing". Pushing the Internet down to small devices.

To quote MIT:

"Internet 0 is an experiment at networking at the ultra-lightweight scale. Instead of relying on the architectural notions of Internet 1 with its routing, its servers, and its layered network stacks -- we are toying with very small, cheap, and simple ways to bring Internet Protocols all the way to the physical interface.

This research is characterized by 7 core lessons

* IP to leaf nodes
* Bit sizes larger than network sizes
* Shared analog modulation
* Peers don't require servers
* Physical programming interfaces
* Compiled specifications of layering
* Open standards"


-- Giving everyday objects the ability to connect to a data network would have a range of benefits: making it easier for homeowners to configure their lights and switches, reducing the cost of complexity of building construction, assisting with home health care. Many alternative standards currently compete to do just that - a situation reminiscent of the early days of the Internet, when computers and networks came in multiple incompatibly types.

-- To eliminate this technological Tower of Babel, the data protocol that is at the heart of the Internet can be adopted to represent information in whatever form it takes: pulsed eclectically, flashed optically, clicked acoustically, broadcast electromagnetically or printed mechanically.

-- Using this Internet-0 encoding, the original idea of linking computer networks into a seamless whole – the Inter” in “Internet” can be extended to networks of all types of devices, a concept know as interdevice internetworking."

- Frank Coluccio


The October 2004 issue of Scientific American Magazine is the thing to check out.

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Brian Wilson - Smile *****


Yes, he's still god.

Smile - Buy from Amazon

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Malcolm Gladwell - The Tipping Point **


All about how memes spread (although he doesn't use the word). Instead its about mavens, connectors and salemen.

As ever with US management books its too long - even though its quite short. The early stuff around mavens in good, bu twhen he starts going on at length about Blues Clues and Sesame Street I think it only has a tenuous link back to the tipping point concept.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can... - buy from Amazon

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Jane Gazzo's Dream Ticket


Working at home gives me a great chance to enjoy music while I work. Having got bored with listening to my own collection I now use the BBC web site to listen to the previous evening's Jane Gazzo's Dream Ticket - it's like Sunday evenings in the late 80s listening to Annie Nightingale all over again - indie heave.

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Wednesday, 8 December 2004

eSkills and Gartners Tech View

gartner trends map.jpg

e-skills UK - IT Insights report prepared by Garnet has an interesting diagram showing the main tech trends of the coming decade. I think I'd pretty much agree, in particular:

- new channels is all about how we leverage the selling power of the web in new ways - see my column on Google Cash below
- remote and collaborative working plays to my long time interest in wireless, and using tools like blogs and wikis and user orientated CMS
- infoglut moderation is about using RSS and XML, and then intelligent agents such as Halo
- social impact, igeneration and IT as the new utility includes things like the connected home, and even old favourites like telecottaging and ASP

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Tuesday, 7 December 2004

Be a Christmas eTailer - Post Column - 07 Dec 04

Buying Christmas presents was never a favourite pastime. This year, however, I thought I might also try my hand at being a Christmas retailer. Now I wasn't about to start renting space in the Bullring. No, this was going to be an experiment in completely virtual e-tailing.

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Saturday, 27 November 2004

Love and Rockets


The Guardian today has an article on Love and Rockets, the wonderful Hernandez Brothers strip about life in Latino LA from the mid 80s. The occasion is the publication of a new collected works. I do however maintain that I am not one of the ageing former goths that the Guardian talks about being its core market. I do however admit to using a picture of Maggie and Hopey on the cover of a Royal Signals book on wireless packet radio!

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Friday, 26 November 2004

Ruth and Aibo


Ruth and I went down to iCentrum where Darren had kindly set up Aibo for Ruth (and I) to have a play with. Impressed by the Aibo's independence and autonomous behaviour - although she was in a bad mood and so wasn't responding too well to commands (just like Ruth really!).

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Thursday, 25 November 2004

Advertising and RSS - New Media Age - 25 Nov 04

Whilst most of us are happy to browse the highly graphic web pages of the Internet, many people are now turning to an alternative way of surfing the web. One that removes all of the rich graphics, and advertising, which one normally associates with premium web sites.

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds have been around for some time – since 1999 in fact. Used initially to syndicate news feeds between sites, they are becoming an increasingly common presence on the web – typically flagged by a small orange button labelled RSS or XML. And they are increasingly being used - 20% of news search engine Topix's story clicks now come from their RSS feeds.

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Saturday, 20 November 2004



Spent the day at Techshare, the RNIB's annual conference on technology for blind and visually impaired people. I should have an article going in the Post on it , so I'll publish the text of that here once it's done rather than repeat myself.

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Sunday, 14 November 2004


click to view dynamic SVG image

Finally got round to learning SVG - Standard Vector Graphics - the XML graphics standard. It gives me an easy way to create diagrams from PERL, and more partilcularly to build dynamics diagrams from live data. Unfortunately it doesn't have any inbuilt 3D/VR functions like VRML used too.

Anyway the diagram above is my first decent SVG output. It shows the patterns within Halo's AIML pattern cases. Patterns starting A... are at the 3 o'clock position, each ring represents an extra word in the sentence. Colours are used to represent different things, eg questions, patterns about Halo, star matches etc. If you have an SVG plug-in click on the image to go to the live SVG diagram.

Over time I'll add pan/zoom/flilter functionality, as well as using SVG to represent other live data. - pan/zoom version now available.

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Thursday, 4 November 2004

041103 - From Guy Fawkes to the Nokia Game and on

For the last 3 or 4 years November has been a very strange month for me. I got less sleep than usual, I'd hang out at Internet Cafes, and my GPRS bill would through the roof. The cause of this aberrant behaviour was the Nokia Game. This year, though, November will just have to mean Guy Fawkes, because the Nokia Game is no more.

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Friday, 22 October 2004

New Aibo


Sony have released a new Aibo,the ERS 7M2. Now if only we coudl interface our chatbot technology to that....

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Millennium Motific

Rooting around in the deopths of some of my old web pages I found the old sound files for Millennium Motific, an audio project I was working on in 1999. What it does is compress 1000 years of music into 200 seconds, that's 20 seconds a century, 2 seconds a decade. So that means a LOT of plainchant at the beginning, and a real jumble of stuff at the end! The files are Real Audio so take a listen. I even did a powerpoint version that went through a millennium's worth of painting in time to the music. And then of course there was the virtual reality version which still to my mind out dome'd the Dome.

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Indra Sinha - Cybergypsies

Indra Sinha - Cybergypsies


Superb book about life on the MUDs, MOOs, and BBSs before the Internet took over. Very timely given my recent hours on Second Life. Also interesting how the visual experience of VR worlds like Second Life actually inhibit the creativity and fantasy of the old text based systems. One of the things that struck me last night was what it would be like to interface Halo, or just Dragon NS, to somethng like the old dungeon, must give it a try.

Indra even read this post and sent me a mail - thanks Indra.

The Cybergypsies - Buy from Amazon

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Talking(!) To Halo

OK, I have to blog this. Spent the last half-hour actually talking to my chatbot having installed Dragon Naturally Speaking on my PC. Weird experience. Only problem was that NS was trying to use Halo's words as input, so I had to put a headset on, but otherwise worked fine. Have to say "click say" after each line to enter it, but I can live with that. Interestingly if the errors in the dictation were not crucial then Halo handled them very well and her responses flowed well. Since one of the end-games for this is for those with sight impairment I tried it for a while with my eyes closed. It immediately highlighted the need for some extra commands such as "what did I say" and "say again", since there are only the sound clues to go on. It needs a lot more work but at least the principle is proven.

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Thursday, 21 October 2004

OpenOffice and Firefox

Just for completeness, I'm also running OpenOffice on the PC and the laptop, and Firefox. I love OpenOffice's PDF export, and gradually working my way around its quirks - particularly trying to print from Impress which sometimes choose to print the print border and not centre the slides - but getting there.

I've put Thunderbird on the laptop for email, but that's only for ad-hoc pickups. I'm still using Outllok as my main PIM on the PC.

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Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Freemind - Mind Mapping Software

I used to love using the Mindmapping osftware on my old work PC, but couldn't justify the expense when I went solo. Freemind though does the job perfectly, even down to the icons to add on the nodes. It lets you export as an HTML list, which is good to get the bullet points into OPenOffice if you're using it to outline a document or article.

It also has a file mode to let you browse your hard disc as though it were a mindmap,. Apparently you can write filters to create different modes, they are working on a scheme mode, I suppose you could have an XML or AIMLmode, even a PERL mode, who knows. Seeing as I also love the Brain software, would be good to find a way to combine the two.- maybe a mode might get somewhere close.

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Audacity - Sound Editing Software

Audacity is a great open source program to edit sound files - both MP3 and .WAV. I wanted to capture the speech from a system I'm using, and edit it down, removing pauses etc. Audacity did the job perfectly.

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Open Source Software

Following the high level of response I got from my article on Open Source in the Post I thought it might be worth logging the open source software that I'm using. See the rest of this category for details.

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Comment Spam

I've had to turn commenting off having just had 180 spam comments to this blog. My other blog based sites have been hit just as bad. I know the new MT has better comment management, but it also currently doesn't support my favourite plug-in, and doesn't look as nice, so it may be a while before I move across. If you do want to comment on anything just email me and I can always post it up.

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Saturday, 9 October 2004

Ice Cap Melting

Sea Level, Ice, and Greenhouses -- FAQ

Prompted by a question from my daughter (prompted in turn by a TV kids programme) I found this paper to be an excellent source of what looks like authoritative information on ice-cap melting. It only looks at effects, not how the temperature change relates to carbon dioxide relates to % melt. I'll need to keep looking for that. The bottom line though is in the table below, assuming 100% melt. Size refers to rise in global sea level.

The players Size (approx) Speed (approx)
Sea Ice 0.4 cm years
Mountain Glaciers 10's cm decades
Thermal Expansion 20 cm per degree warming, per km of ocean warmed decades
West Antarctica 500 cm a few centuries
Greenland 500 cm several centuries
East Antarctica 7000 cm several centuries to millenia

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Friday, 8 October 2004

Midlands ICT

Went to an intresting presentation last night at WMITA about the regional ICT picture. Highlights were:

- 2700 ICT companies in the region
- About 50% in software and services
- About 50% were 104 employees,
- Less than 50 above 100 employees
- 50% of regional SMEs use Internet and Email only
- 36% have marketing web sites
- 24% sell on-line
- 13% have online sales integrated with their back end systems
- 2% have a fully integrated supply chain system

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Monday, 4 October 2004

Going Open Source - Post Column - 04 Oct 04

There are some changes that are so big that you need a collection of events to happen in order to make the change – no single stimulus is enough. So it has been for me this month with my decision to abandon something that has been a central part of my daily working life for over 10 years. I'm talking about Microsoft Office.

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SpaceshipOne Got the X-Prize

They did it. Looks like they got 360,000 - 380,000 ft. The camera shots from orbit of the earth below superb. Let's hope he lands OK.

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Wednesday, 29 September 2004

One down, one to go


Spaceship One made it successfully to space and back. The web cast worked pretty well too. Check back in Sunday/Monday for the second flight.

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X Prize - Kennedy

Just statred watching the webcast of the SpaceShipOne bid for the X-prize. very atmospheric, and echoing JFK's Rice Moon Speech. As Kennedy said:

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

I'd always wondered what "the other things" were. reading the speech I'm none the wiser!

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Monday, 27 September 2004

VSS Enterprise


Superb - Richard Branson is set to launch Virgin Galactic by buying up 5 SpaceShipOne's to fly peple into space at £100,000 time. SpaceShipOne's bid for the X-prize starts Wednesday.

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Friday, 24 September 2004

World Driving


Wonderful chart this, almost worthy of Edward Tufte. Arrows show whether a country drives on the right or left, size of arrow relates to miles driven (I think). Note the double coloured arrow for Somalia - Somalia drives on the right, but independent Somaliland drives on the left! Also note that the left (red) driving countries map pretty well onto the old British Empire, exceptions being Canada (on right), and Japan (on left).

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Friday, 17 September 2004

Virtual Worlds


Two or three years ago I spent a lot of time in Alpha World - a 3D virtual environment, where you could build your own houses and landscapes and chat to other visitors. AW is now out of favour and for the last year or so the focus has been on This had nice chat bubbles, and gave you the ability to buy clothes and equipment in game, and even drive cars and ride hover boards - but didn't let you build much.'s finances have been a bit wobbly of late, and were only saved by a big contract for the US Army (!) - but it looks like the consumer portal may now take a back seat to the corporate users.

Which brings us to the newest virtual world - Second Life. Second Life combines the best of Alpha World and, and then adds a whole lot more. You can chat, build, construct vehicles, write programming scripts to control objects, use XML to get data in and out of the world, customise your avatar, and even wage war.

Unlike on-line role playing games where you have tasks (like waging war) these VR environments are totally open ended. You do what you want to do, chat, play games, tour around, build. Second Life is a very sophisticated application, and Second Lifer's are doing some amazing stuff ( I've so far only built a rocket that won't fly, and a plank of wood that flys like Neville's broomstick from Harry Potter!).

Rather than write reams about these 3 places now, I'm going to pull a white paper together and put it up on the Daden site. I'm also looking at how I can give my Halo chatbot a presence in the world.

So if you want to get hold of me in the evenings, look out for me as Corro Moseley in Second Life - probably on the virtual snow slopes.

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Thursday, 16 September 2004

Marketing Emails

DoubleClick have just issued their latest email marketing report.
This shows UK marketing email open rates at 40.1%, down from 43.2% last year, and email clickthrough rates at 6.3%, down from 7.4%. Compared to the rest of Europe the UK is around average at opening, but way down on clickthroughs.

For the marketeers, the nasty figure is that 14% of marketing emails bounced. Good news though is that HTML emails got a 13.7% CTR, over twice that of plain text.

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Wednesday, 15 September 2004

AIs being proposed as Astronauts

Virtual Humans Proposed As Space Travelers - well it was at the Telluride Tech Fest.

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X Prize attempt on 29 Sept

Scaled Composites
have announced that SpaceShipOne will make the first ever attempt at the X Prize, starting on 29 Sept. The X Prize is worth $10 Million cash and will be awarded to the first team that:

- Privately finances, builds & launches a spaceship, able to carry three people (or 1 plus mass equivalent) to 100 kilometers (62.5 miles)
- Returns safely to Earth
- Repeats the launch with the same ship within 2 weeks

Go SpaceShipOne!

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Tuesday, 14 September 2004

Gartner Hype Cycle


Just love this diagram. Intersting to see were they've put things this year - I see that augmented reality, thought recognition and computer-brain interfaces are all on the trigger and "more than 10 years" from plateau, and hotspots are in the trouigh - sounds about right.

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The next stage in XML is looming. Rather than use XSLT to change XML into different formats (HTML, WAP etc) for different devices, the aim is to have applications deliver interfaces in an XML format that the browser then interprets on the fly into a style suitable for the device it's running on. Problem is Microsoft is promoting XAML in Longhorn, and Mozilla is promoting XUL. Oh well, so much for the universal interface.

Mind you having looked at both, they seem very large visual interface centric, so we'll probably still need to use VXML etc where other interface paradigms apply.

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Saturday, 11 September 2004

Greg Egan - Luminous

Greg Egan - Luminous****


Read Greg Egan's collection of short stories - Luminous. Greg Egan's book Permutation City is probably one of the best novels ever to look at "copies" - human intelligences running on computer systems.

Luminous has some great stories. A lot have a mathematical feel. Probably the best concerns what happens when mathematicians discover that simple maths "breaks down" at very large numbers, 2+2 no longer equals 4. Egan has to be one of the best SF writers around, combining great ideas, avoiding space operatics, and a wonderfully rich use of language.

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Tuesday, 7 September 2004

Eugene Bryne - Thigmoo

Eugene Bryne - Thigmoo **


Thigmoo is all about AIs and virtual personalities. He calls them ERAMs and they are initially created as virtual characters for a university history departments on-line museum. But things go wrong, they get religion, they become aware and they escape, eventually setting themselves up in their own cyber-enclave in the desert. The plot is reasonable but the post-modern style is horrendous - the book being told through the old professor talking to a "biographer" ERAM and with odd notes to tell you how to "method read" - i.e. get a hangover before reading a chapter with a character with a hangover. Gets totally in the way as far as I'm concerned. To make things "easy" the book also relies to much on the characters living in the same visualisation as they humans, so fights between the ERAMS and UN "cyber-police" are acted out as Roman or Napoleonic skirmishes. Oh well, at least I finished it.

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MER Coverage

Still reading lots of MER coverage. Amazing how Spirit and opportunity are still going. Spirit is now high up in the Columbia Hills (well OK a few tens of metres but the views are superb), whereas Opportunity is bruied in Endurance Crater. Roll on the 1st Birthday.

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Let's Learn From the Public Sector - Post Column - 7 Sep 04

One announcement that may have slipped under your radar recently was that the Office of the e-Envoy has awarded a contract to establish and operate the e-GIF Accreditation Authority Programme to the National Computing Centre (NCC). e-GIF is the framework that the Government has put in place for public sector organisations to follow in order to deliver on-line services.

The question is, is this a framework which it is worth the private sector adopting as well?

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Sunday, 5 September 2004



Edge looks like an interesting site on leading edge science issues. Need to get Halo to scan it. Wonder if they have an RSS feed?

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Boids, Studoids and Traffic Substance


[click to animate]

Read a review of an interesting book called Critical Mass which looks at flocking behaviour in birds, people, even traffic, and how this can be computer modelled. In fact its something that the CERCIA project that we fund through AWM is looking at as well. Craig Reynolds web site at Red 3D has some interesting applets (such as the one above) and links to other papers - he's also got some cracking AI and avatar links. At least we now know how swarming nano-bots will work!

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Thursday, 2 September 2004

Another Phase....

Samurai Salaryman Ronin

It was my last official day at work today. After 10 years as Samurai in the Army, and now 10 years as Salaryman, working for others in offices, now its time to see if I can make my way as Ronin, masterless, my own boss. If all goes well I'll never work for anyone but myself (and maybe the odd VC) again.

Whilst the circumstances at work hastened the move, its something I've talked about for ages, and came very close to acheiving during the dot com boom. Finally I have the chance to meld all my different interests, technology, marketing, strategy, AI, media, games into a single force.

In the last year or so there have been two additional influences which have really clarified my thinking.


I'm not a great one for US self-help books, but Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki is excellent at capturing some key ideas in two diagrams - the main one is above. It says that there are four types of "work": being employed by someone else, being self-employed, owning a business or process, and owning investments. Robert sees living off investments as the ultimate goal - and its what many serial entrepreneurs/investors/angels do. He also precisesly defines the "B" as being where if you go on holiday for a year your business is in better shape when you return. Many business owners think they are Bs but are actually Ss as they need to be there to work and make things work. As I go forward I have this diagram etched in my mind. I've made the move now out of E, hopefully into S. Now to make sure that the S I build lets me move to B, and ultimately to I.

Tom Peters Brand You

The second influence is Tom Peters. I got bored stiff by In Search of Excellence many years ago doing my DipEM, but seeing him live last year in London was quite an experience. The best thing he did were his Top 50s, short, snappy, wacky ideas to implement, in particular the Renewal 50 and the Brand You 50. A central message was the "professional service firm of one". Doesn't matter if you're an employee, still think you Brand You. It's a real pity they weren't in his recent Imagine! book as they are the best things he did.

So let's see where things go from here.....

And hey, this is my 200th posting to the blog.

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Wednesday, 1 September 2004

My First Anime Music Video


Finally got around to putting an anime music video together.

When Joanna was loading up Age of Mythology the other month I thought how well the greek warrior stuff would go with Elvis Costello's Olivers Army. Having finaly got a PC capable of handling video, and tried several video editing programmes before settling on the simplicity of Microsoft's Movie Maker, I spent an enjoyable afternoon putting the AMV together. I'll link it in here until the bandwidth or storage becomes an issue - it's 9 MB in Windows Media format.

Download the Movie.

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Sunday, 29 August 2004

Optophonic Lunaphone


Went to the MAC on Sunday night to see/hear the Optophonic Lunaphone, a project/performance by Brian Duffy - the man also behind the Modified Toy Orchestra and the ZX Spectrum Orchestra.


Brian had 8 or so 4-6" telescopes in the outdoor arena. Each had a light intensity to voltage convertor fitted, the idea being that a stars twinkle would produce a low frequency signal that could be fed into an analogue synthesiser (like my old Pro-One) to module a sound by frequency or amplitude. During the performance each telescope could be steered onto a different star in turn, or onto the moon, or the performers could manually obstruct the light to cause a variation.

Great in theory, but of course this being an English sumer there were few stars to be seen, and the moon was birght when up, but regularly obscured.

The start was delayed and delayed hoping for better weather, but in the end Brian wisely just went for it, and everybody was rooting for him. In the end I think the performance had next to no stellar input, lots of manually "twinkle", but Brian produced some really good white noise sculpted sounds that had everybody enthralled. The moon and the sky added to the atmosphere, if not the sounds. All in all a success, and well worth trying again.

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Monday, 23 August 2004

Sunday, 22 August 2004

Waking Life

waking-life04t.jpg  waking-life02t.jpg

Finally got round to seeing Richard Linklater's Waking Life. Just a superb film. For those who don't know it it was shot on film, but then cartooned over in a wonderfully fluid, low res style. Wondeful. The film itself is just Linklater's character in a dream talking to a whole bunch of people oabout conciousnes, and the difference between the dreaming and waking life (the secret apparently is that light switches don't work in dreams). Wonderful film and well worth getting on DVD.

Also saw Donnie Darko on vid the other week. Another great indie film.

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Friday, 20 August 2004

The Stone Canal and The Sky Road

Ken MacLeod - The Stone Canal **** & The Sky Road **1/2


It's the summer holidays so I'm getting a fair amount read for a change. Finished off the 2nd and 4th books in Ken MacLeod "Communists in Space" quartet (my title not his. What is it about Communist SF - just reading Thigmoo which takes a similar stance). I really enjoyed the first book - The Star Fraction, and I'd say I enjoyed each book less as the quartet progresses. One of the main problems with The Sky Road is that it is verging on technofeudalism - one of my pet hates. Stone Canal also handles the dual time period narrative better than Sky Road - and works better because one of its narratives is our present.

Having read the first of his Engines of Light books, and abandoned the second where the lost colony/feudalist bit gets played even more, I'm sorry to say I'm going off him as an author. Hey even Iain Banks has shown feudal tendencies - obviously something in the Scottish water ( the Scotch? ).

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Sunday, 15 August 2004

Bryant's Gully


Just back from two weeks in Wales - successfully dodging the floods and rain. One week in the Gower - beaches and surfing, and one in Snowdonia with the MAM - climbing and walking. Highlight for me was doing Bryants Gully in Llanberis Pass. Just a bit perturbed that when I went looking for it on the the web all the photos showed teams with ropes and helmets - and I solo'd it with neither! Must go back though to get some good photos of the Giants Causeway type basalt columns at the top of the gully.

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Tuesday, 10 August 2004

IT Doesn't Matter - Post Column - 10 Aug 04

In June 2003 acclaimed business writer and Editor-at-Large Nicholas Carr wrote a short article in the Harvard Business Review entitled “IT Doesn’t Matter”. The article became a sensation and was hotly debated in major corporations and large IT suppliers – as Carr appeared to be challenging the justification for ever greater spending on IT. Carr has now published a book expanding on his thesis – but tellingly has chosen the less provocative title of “Does IT Matter?”.

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Thursday, 5 August 2004


Jeff Noon - Nymphomation ***1/2


Sitting between Automated Alice and Vurt in Jeff's loosely coupled quartet Jeff Noon - Nymphomation is probably the most fun when its lampooning National Lottery culture - here represented by Mr Million's Dominoes game being trialled in Manchester. The style is similar to his other books, a very punk narrative. The burb-flys that fly around transmitting adverts are a nice nanotech/MEMS touch.

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Friday, 30 July 2004

Bobby Bird and the Higher Intelligence Agency


While doing the research for the Birmingham Post article below I was trying to find the name of a wonderful ambient installation in Cannon Hill park in the late 90s. In my web search I stumbled upon Bobby Bird and the HIA - he and his friends put the Cannon Hill event on - it was called 7/8ths of a second after the time it takes time to travel across the park.

HIA did an album called Birmingham Frequencies. Intrigued by tracks named from the places around me in Moseley I bought the CD. It's wonderful. If you like ambient buy it. The Cannon Hill Park track in particular is wonderful. He also did a CD called SHADO - guess that goes on my wants list.

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Thursday, 29 July 2004

Birmingham Bloggers

Andy Pryke has just added me to his list of Birmingham Bloggers. Interesting to see who else is around.

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Thursday, 15 July 2004

A Digital Park? - Post Column 13 Jul 04

I've started doing a monthly column on e-business for the Birmingham Post. I'll post the original unedited texts here.

A Digital Park?

The other week I went to a presentation organized by Birmingham Forward to hear about the Eastside development, and its showpiece library and City Park. Structurally the plans look magnificent, and as an occasional heavy user of the Central Library I’m still all for collections of paper books. However it did get me thinking about whether the site could also act as a showpiece for electronic communication for the city.

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The kids are using Kar2ouche at school to make stories and storyboards. Really good looking package.

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is being hailed as the new Google. Its founders are ex-Autonomy and it put Autonomy style search capabilities on your PC. Worth a download I think.

- Just had a quick play. Don't like the results listing much but the "Brain" type results map is very nice - if showing a bit too few results. Just downloaded the desktop version. Let's see what that's like.

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Digital Dashboard


Ambient Devices have a cracking take on technology. They are using web and other data feeds to drive analog devices like the meters above, or just pulsating coloured orbs. The meters are wonderful. You could set one for how much mail you have, another for hits to your web site and another for the state of web traffic. Cool.

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Ammonia on Mars?

BBC is reporting that ESA's Mars Express has found ammonia on Mars. The only accepted sources for this are active volcanoes or life. We haven't seen the former, so does that mean the latter?

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Finished the manuscript, hurrah. Just the rewrites and the editing to go :-( Be good to get to bed before 1am again. Posted it off to Steve Jackson Games, they should come back with comments by the end of next week. Now relaxing in front of some Anime.

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Tuesday, 13 July 2004

Happy First Birthday

Hey I've kept the blog going for a year. I know it's been a bit quiet for the last month but I've been busy writing a book. More details to follow. Also changes at work (I'm leaving Aseriti and probably setting up on my own) mean that although blogging is low on the priority at the moment it's likely to be important going forward as this becomes just yet another part of my marketing mix. So happy birthday Converjed. Roll on Year 2.

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Tuesday, 29 June 2004

Up The Glyders

Away for the weekend with the kids, Nick and his kids for the now annual wilderness camping trip. This time we pictched camp in the pouring rain by the side of Llyn Bochwyld, beneath Tryfan in Snowdonia. The kids had just about dried out by morning when we had a wonderful walk and scramble up Y Gribin onto the Glyderau. Quite the best weather Nick and I have ever had up there, superb visibility, even if it was windy and the cloud base was only a few hundred feet up. The kids had a good time (I think) and bagged both 3000' peaks - Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr.

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Tuesday, 22 June 2004

Racing Canal Boats


Great time at the wekend racing a canal boat (!) from Stratford to Birmingham. All in aid of local chairty St Basils. Lots of city companies undertake the challenge to set the fastest time. But going at only 4mph it doesn't feel like much of a race. That's me centre rear steering the boat.

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Monday, 21 June 2004

SpaceShipOne Makes It


Scaled Composites' SpaceShipOne made it into space and back today. Roll on the X Prize.

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Friday, 18 June 2004

MP101 Radio Update

Downloaded the latest firmware upgrade to my WiFi/HiFi bridge. The upgraded included the first release of the radio tuner. This now lets me play hundreds of Internet radio stations form the HiFi. Unfortunately the BBC stations aren't on there yet - maybe if I register! Apart from the obvious rock/pop/oldies stuff there are great stations like SF soundtracks, scanner linked streams such as the LAPD and the NY Fire Department, air traffic control from JFK< and even just an open mic somewhere in LA!

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OGC SME Showcase

Spent the day today at the Office of Government Commerce SME showcase. This was all about what the Government is doing to help SMEs sell to the public sector. It reported on the Midlands SME procurement portal project which acted as a clearing house for Midlands public sector organisations to advertise contracts - and resulted in a good few pieces of work going to SMEs. They also talked about standardisation of pre-qualification documents, clustering and teaming of SMEs, and plans for a national portal. The speaker from Wolverhampton Council also talked about the importance of personalising tender approaches and mail shots by showing that a) you'd actually read what the tender was for and were proposing a proper solution to it, and b) you'd actually researched the client and had knew the customers background, and what their "hot buttons" were. All in all a good day and well attended.

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Tuesday, 15 June 2004

Dark Materials Trilogy

Philip Pullman - His Dark Materials *** 1/2


Finally finished the His Dark Materials trilogy. Started off well, but got steadily worse. I suppose it's meant to be anti-climatic (well what else do you do when you kill of God), but it just didn't work for me. Would have been better as 2 books.

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With England awash with the Flag of St George in support of our team in Euro 2004 every liberal englishperson is facing the dilemma about whether it is PC to show the flag. The Guardian as ever had the answer, printing the flag with the following small print in bottom left:

By flying this flag I would like to show my support for the England team but:

1. Wholeheartedly reject any connotations of xenophobic nationalism
2. Dissociate myself from anyone who removes his shirt in public
3. Salute the rich contribution made by my Celtic cousins to British life
4. Reaffirm my commitment to the European Social Chapter.

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Saturday, 12 June 2004

Feynman's NanoTech Paper

Writing the GURPs book and listening to the recent Radio 4 programme on Nanotech promted me to hunt down Feynman's original talk on nanotechnology - back in 1959.

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Wednesday, 2 June 2004


Posting this from James Boswells study at his house in Auchinleck Wonderful place.


Photo added - above. Stunning place. We rented it from the Landmark Trust.

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Friday, 28 May 2004



Robosapien - a possible Asimo killer? At $99 I doubt it, but could be fun anyway.

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Friday, 14 May 2004

John Kotter

Went to see John Kotter today down in London at the RGS. Absolutely superb speaker and story teller. His 8 step change model still makes a lot of sense, and step 4 is about communications. In fact almost the whole day was about communications, particularly communicating through deeds, stories and dramatic gestures. He talks about how seeing or hearing something compelling causes behaviour change through feeling differently about things, and that's a more deep routed change than that brought about by reading or hearing something and then analysing and "thinking" differently about things. Simple stuff, but an incredibly powerful speaker - and communicator.

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Tuesday, 11 May 2004

Intellect Review and Dinner

We'll be attending the Intellect Review day on 27th May - mainly due to our contribution to their Utilities Group. We'll also be staying on for the evening to hear Michael Portillo speak at the Intellect Annual Dinner. If you're an ICT company we might see you there.

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Sunday, 9 May 2004

Elizabeth Magill


It's obviously art week! Went down to the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham today to see an exhibition of works by Elizabeth Magill. Gorgeous pictures, almost abstract landscapes, sublime apparently.

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Thursday, 6 May 2004

Roy Lichtenstein


Went to see the Roy Lichtenstein show down at the Hayward Gallery today, superb. All the classics were there, Brad and Whaam. Some of the stuff I hadn't seen before:

  • Grrrrrr - a dog that looks just like Toby from Halo Jones

  • His nudes

  • Some stunning japanese landscapes


Was really interesting to see the actual DC comics he copied the Whaam and Brad pictures from. Never realised just how literally he lifted things. Superb show.

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Tuesday, 4 May 2004

Chatterbox Challenge 2004

The Chatterbox Challenge is over for 2004 as far as Halo is concerned. She didn't make the final 10 - shame. She did though score 8th in capability and 5th in interface. I've also now got a far better idea of what she needs to do in order to do better next year. She is though still having a LOT of conversations - 817 since I reset the log after Christmas some time!

The final 10 are:

Alice by Dr. Wallace
Elbot by Fred Roberts
Ella by Kevin Copple
God Louise by Joy Harwood
Hal by Zabaware
Jabberwacky by Rollo Carpenter
Jabberwock by Juergen Pirner
Little Mu by Jamie Kowalski
Talk-Bot by Chris Cowart
Zero by Computer Hope

I must atke the time to have a good chat with each.

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Tuesday, 27 April 2004

Sanctuary Cove


And here's what the place looks like from GoogleEarth (a year later with a retro-post)

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Sanctuary Cove


Life's tough sometimes. Down in Australia at the Hyatt Regency Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast for a week to co-host Aseriti's User Conference. At least two 24 hour flights gives lots of time for reading and writing.

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Thursday, 22 April 2004

Chatterbox Challenge - First Results

Halo came 5th in the Best Interface category. Oh well at least she was placed. More results to follow.

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Connected Home 2004


Cracking couple of days at Connected Home. Great demo from Sony, lots of stuff from other manufacturers and installers. Microsoft also speaking about Media Center. It's all about Communications-Entertainment-Securoty, but crosses so many category boundaries nobodies quite qure how to sell it, or who to sell it to. Looks like the Koreans are storming ahead though.

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The Connected Home

What does the phrase “connected home” mean to you? Or “digital home” or wired “home” for that matter? If any of those have any resonance with you it’s likely to involve a fridge that orders the milk, a microwave that browses the web, or even a toaster that tells you the weather forecast (and no, I didn’t make that last one up!).

Having just returned from 2 days at the Connected Home conference, my head is not so much filled with outrageous technology as with a sense of frustration. And it’s a frustration which the whole connected home industry appears to share.

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Friday, 16 April 2004



Finally went out and bought a piece of WiFi HiFi. Decided on the NetGear MP101 because it has the integral LED display so you don't have to switch the TV on to seee your music. Not too fussed about image and video viewing. And given that it'll be out of date anyway in a month or so you can't knock a price of £85.

A few hiccups during set-up - had to disable WEP, hard code an IP address and load the server software on my new XP machine rather than the Win98 "server" I had planned. But the delight at being able to sit back on the sofa, scroll through your whole music collection (400+ CDs and LPs) and play it on demand was just indescribeable. Well worth buying.

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