Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pageflakes, the BBC and free lunches.

The BBC Internet Blog have for some time been making use of Pageflakes as a tracking tool, using it as a one stop site where they pull together comment and conversation about the BBC. It's quite a good and interesting read. Some of it's a bit parochial, but it is their page. They have made it public, so they must want to share.

It is not only BBC insiders that use the facility, this author is among several who read the flake.
On A Hill has in the past experienced little surges in readership stats when the blog has featured in their Google blog reactions feed.

The BBC are a little upset, concerned, and worried because they have noticed that their PageFlakes page has changed.
New flakes and horror of horrors adverts have appeared.

I went to have a look and have to confess that it took me a while to discover the sponsored flake.
Those of us who spend long periods of time on the Internet do not see adverts. I certainly block them out. They are a nuisance, particularly the flashy ones that vie for attention, but I don't consciously read them.
It may be that they work on me subliminally but I just don't see them. But the fact remains, the BBC sponsored / promoted Pageflakes page is carrying adverts and as we all know the BBC don't do adverts (unless they're advertising their own output).

The BBC are now wondering what's to be done with their Pageflakes page.

I went to look at my Pageflakes, produced as part of a small project I was involved with earlier in the year showcasing Web 2.0 technologies. I also discovered a sponsored flake.

In my case it doesn't matter, my pageflakes were for a small audience (who no longer read the page).
But if my flakes were to be used in the name of the University of Glamorgan, it probably would matter that adverts were appearing on a page linked with our work.
What if I were pulling together environmental feeds and there in the middle of the page appeared an advert for Jaguar cars?

There is no such thing as a free lunch, a free blog, or a free hosted Web 2.0 application.

Recreating the BBC Pageflakes page for private use would not be that difficult for those of us interested in it's content. The feeds could be pulled together on an iGoogle page, in Netvibes, in symbaloo, in SuprGlu, in an ordinary feed reader; the list is endless.

But that's not the point.

If I as a relatively private individual chose to produce a page of feeds related to my interests, say University News Feeds to share with my colleagues I am quite at liberty to use a "free" service such as Pageflakes.
In return I give Pageflakes access to my colleagues, who to Pageflakes are a ready made audience interested in particular topics. But if I then publicise that page to a far wider audience all sorts of problems arise. I wouldn't be at all surprised if such a venture would break some of the University regulations.

The problem faced by the BBC now, is that what was a possibly private internal page of links has been publicised. Perhaps it should have been kept private. Web 2.0 apps are quickly transforming our world but there's always a cost that we don't always see when we come across cutting edge applications. 

I guess the BBC Internet Blog shouldn't have an official Pageflakes page.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Obama's World post Wednesday November 5th.

Now the dust has settled it might be time to take a breath and look back at a few interesting bits and pieces.

I've been following Obama on Twitter for a while. On the fifth he sent me and 121,064 others this message.

has a fascinating series of articles looking "behind the scenes of the campaign".
Reporters were granted access to "the McCain and Obama" camps on the condition that nothing was published until after election day.
It's hard to imagine that happening here in the UK.

Here's the front page of the New York Times.
Kottke notes that this was only the fifth time the paper used type for it's headline.

There's only one place to go for election pictures. As ever "The Big Picture" has the very best photographs.

An interactive video and a transcript of the President Elect's Victory speech can be found here.

And I've discovered only today that the President Elect has a half sister called Auma, who supports West Ham.

The ever reliable and informed Mashable points us in the direction of, where the President Elect's transition team outlines some of the forthcoming agenda.

I've added the page to my daily reads (can't see a rss feed anywhere)

Dave Winer's observation on the result. Look what he wrote in 2004!

Look at what Silvio Berlusconi said!
According to the Guardian,
"Later, when he returned to his hotel, Berlusconi said his comment that
Obama was "giovane, bello e abbronzato", "was a big compliment," which
only "imbeciles" would misinterpret, Italy's state news wire Ansa
reported. "If some people don't have a sense of humour, then it's their
problem,'' he said."

Comment from Andrew Sullivan and a reader in the Atlantic.

And finally,

from the future. Go Nanobama!

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election Stats. !

The CNN site that some of us watched last night received 27 million unique visitors yesterday.

More than five times their normal daily traffic.

Those visitors generated 276 million page views.


via TechCrunch via Twitter

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Male or Female?


It recognised me as a male.

I wonder did it read my profile, or analyse the text? LOL.

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Friday, October 31, 2008

My First Tweet

This is a lovely idea.

I'd forgotten that My First Tweet was such a magical moment.

It shows I must have been a late adopter.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The American Presidential Debates

There is an extraordinary video on BoingBoing.

Who says politics isn't spontaneous?

Or that politicians can't dance.

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On Obama and Inclusivity.

Driven by my friend Datblogu's interest in this video, I've spent a little more time on Obama's website.

There can be no doubt that Obama works hard to be inclusive.
He has prepared and made available text, video and sound messages aimed at the many different communities and ethnic groups to be found in the United States.

I'm going to list in alphabetical order the people he aims to connect with here :-

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
African Americans
Americans Abroad
Americans with Disabilities
Arab Americans
European and Mediterranean Americans
First Americans
Generation Obama
Jewish Americans
People of Faith
Rural Americans
Small Business
Veterans and Military Families

It all seems a bit clinical to me, or am I being too cynical?

My eye was drawn to the Sportsmen, curious as to where the sportswomen were?
I am so dull!
Sport in the USA is not quite the same as sport here.

Obama speaks to the sportsmen.
“I am very mindful of the fact that sportsmen in America may have gone hunting with their fathers, their grandfathers, their mothers, their grandmothers, and that this is part of a tradition and a way of life that has to be preserved. And there's nothing that I will do as president of the United States that will in any way encroach on the ability of sportsmen to continue that tradition.”
No mention of animal rights then :)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Digital Inclusion, Get on Line and Digital Champions

It would appear that today is "National Get Online Day'

Did you know that?
I didn't.

I discovered about today online, surfing the net, drifting in the flow of information and knowledge that streams across my computer screen.

I've been taking an interest in Twitter, investigating a range of Twitter tools and watching Political Twitter activity. I've been watching is called HMGOV, "an unofficial service of official news feeds from UK Government". I'm one of 161 people following this feed which to date has issued 10, 473 updates! I don't know who provides this service, or how. I guess it's a mash up of some kind, taking government news feeds and tweeting them.

It makes for interesting reading, BUT to be honest the output is overpowering. It is one of those feeds that may just need to be culled :)

Earlier today I noticed the following tweet :-

#WalesOffice Paul Murphy unveils new role of Digital Champion: A new high-profile Digital Champ..

Following that link I discovered all sorts of interesting facts.

Paul Murphy is the Minister for Digital Inclusion, who intends to appoint a Digital Champion as part of the Government's Digital Inclusion agenda.

Do you suppose the Champion might become known as Cyberman or Cyberwoman?

The job description is a bit vague, in fact I don't think it's written yet.
They'd like a Champion but don't know what he / she should do.

“The post of Digital Champion will be independent of Government, but
will work closely with myself as Minister for Digital Inclusion, the
Cabinet Committee and the cross-Government Digital Inclusion Team. The
Champion will work as a high-profile public figure who can raise the
profile of this agenda, gaining support from industry, the third and
public sectors, plus central and local government, whilst maintaining
their independence.

“The exact role and responsibilities of the Champion are not yet
agreed, that is why we are asking people to respond to this
consultation to help us shape our plans for the future. We are eager to
hear people’s views on how this new post can work most effectively, and
indeed to suggest individuals or organisations to fulfil this role.”

There's a forum where you can discuss the main themes of the Digital Inclusion Action Plan.
No ones chatting there yet, but it's only been there two days ......

Paul Murphy can be found here and here.
Somehow I sort of thought that the Minister for Digital Inclusion might have had a news feeds, or a range  of digital media, or a Twitter feed.
Perhaps the Minister should follow the Foreign Office.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

On Life after death?

A fascinating article on Mashable caught my eye.
It's title seems surreal but it's a question that deserves some serious thought.

"What Happens to Our Social Profiles After We Die?"

I've all sorts of questions in my mind ........


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Friday, October 17, 2008

Changes at Google?

Somehow I don't think this is a good thing.

"Google is in the content production business."

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

On Education Applications, Ipods, Iphones and Stanford.

As was widely predicted the introduction of third party  applications (via  Apple's ITunes store) has enhanced the appeal of the iPod and iPhone. No longer is the iPhone a strictly walled garden. In the same way that gadgets can be placed on the iGoogle desktops, or widgets can be placed on the Mac dashboard, applications can now be placed on both the iPod touch and iPhone.

Applications are neatly filed in the iTunes store under a range of nineteen categories.
The filing system is not that helpful but it is enhanced by the customary "New", "What's Hot" and "Staff Favourites" sections. Eager browsers may also find themselves attracted by the "Top Paid Apps" and "Top Free Apps". Reviews of the applications are provided to help in app choice but as ever  "Caveat emptor" should be the eager shoppers motto.

The list of Education Apps makes for interesting reading. At present it consists of fourteen pages, each carrying twenty one apps! Some of these are free, some are lite (demo versions with limited features) and some cost. The cheapest are 59p, the most expensive I have noticed to date are £23.99.

As I browsed through the store two Ed Apps caught my eye.

 A company called Modality Inc provide "Zollinger's Atlas of Surgical Operation, Gastrointestinal: Upper", which is described as;
"The classic guide to general surgery procedures ... now available for the iPhone and iPod touch ...... Using the intuitive iPhone interface, you can navigate through detailed images with the flick of a finger, pinch to zoom, and tap to read easy to follow instructions for each procedure" !
I am so tempted to purchase one of Modality's products just to see what it looks like.

Here is a company working to embrace the use of mobile technology in teaching and learning. "Modality, we make small screens smarter, The Titles you Trust on the Screens you Love" have a developing range of titles  for medical students and professionals. Also they seem to be preparing to release Cliffs Notes which I remember from my days of studying literature. Impressive stuff. Think how many teenagers / young people / students have ipods/ iphones. If the applications are as good as they appear to be, think of the market!

The second application that caught my eye, was a free one. I came across the 8.4MB of code that is "iStanford" an application that slipped into the store on October 4th.

The application description says;
"iStanford is Stanford University in the palm of your hand.
Search the Stanford directory, search campus map, find and bookmark courses, and get scores, schedules, and news for all Stanford varsity athletics teams. All from your Iphone or iPod touch"

It continues.......
"Coming soon
Register for classes, View your course and grade history (this and previous terms), View your University balance, past statements and transaction history, Login to view private Stanford information"
This I have downloaded, and explored and it is an impressive application. Having explored the Stanford app I searched the web and discovered the following (in no particular order)
I was led to the iTunes App store by my new iPhone, but I'd missed the point. When I first saw the iStanford app my initial question was how many students at Stanford own an iPhone?

It was the wrong question.

The questions we need to ask are

  • What applications are we building in the UK for our students?
  • What applications are our students building for themselves?
  • How quickly could we in the UK introduce a course like the iPhone Programming Course at Stanford?

What's to be done?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On Photographs.

Writing on his blog Nicholas Carr reminds us of what he calls the "expansiveness of today's web"

Facebook engineers have announced what they describe as "a really cool milestone"

Facebook users (and that's probably you and me) have uploaded 10 billion digital photographs to the site!
Furthermore it appears that Facebook stores four images sizes for each photograph so they must be storing 40 billion files.

Some users of Facebook might wonder about whom those photographs belong.

The answer to that question will be found in the Facebook Terms of Use.

I have to confess that I don't understand the terms ....... which say

"You are solely responsible for the photos, profiles (including your
name, image, and likeness), messages, notes, text, information, music,
video, advertisements, listings, and other content that you upload,
publish or display (hereinafter, "post") on or through the Service or
the Site, or transmit to or share with other users (collectively the
"User Content"). You may not post, transmit, or share User Content on
the Site or Service that you did not create or that you do not have
permission to post. You understand and agree that the Company may, but
is not obligated to, review the Site and may delete or remove (without
notice) any Site Content or User Content in its sole discretion, for
any reason or no reason, including User Content that in the sole
judgment of the Company violates this Agreement or the Facebook Code of Conduct,
or which might be offensive, illegal, or that might violate the rights,
harm, or threaten the safety of users or others. You are solely
responsible at your sole cost and expense for creating backup copies
and replacing any User Content you post or store on the Site or provide
to the Company.

When you post User Content to the Site, you authorise and direct us
to make such copies thereof as we deem necessary in order to facilitate
the posting and storage of the User Content on the Site. By posting
User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you
represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company
an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid,
worldwide licence (with the right to sublicence) to use, copy, publicly
perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in
part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial,
advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the
promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into
other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorise sublicences
of the foregoing. You may remove your User Content from the Site at any
time. If you choose to remove your User Content, the licence granted
above will automatically expire, however you acknowledge that the
Company may retain archived copies of your User Content. Facebook does
not assert any ownership over your User Content; rather, as between us
and you, subject to the rights granted to us in these Terms, you retain
full ownership of all of your User Content and any intellectual
property rights or other proprietary rights associated with your User


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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On Middle Age.

I guess I'm middle aged, so this report  brings me so much joy!

"For middle aged and older people at least, using the internet helps boost brain power,"
"Internet searching engages complicated brain activity, which may help exercise and improve brain function."

I think I knew that!


The report "suggested that newcomers to the web had not quite grasped
the strategies needed to successfully carry out a web search."

Which means there is work to be done in developing digital literacy?

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Oh to still live in Whitchurch! (and play with next generation Broadband)

I used to live in Whitchurch, owned my first house there, just round the corner from the exchange!

Oh to be living there now.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

The iPhone, YouTube and the Guardian.

It's difficult not to be impressed by YouTube and there is no doubt that the iPhone is the perfect tool for watching YouTube videos.

As I type I am watching  Diana Vickers from Saturday's X factor, here on my Mac and on the iPhone!

The iPhone experience is better, the interface is simpler, there's less clutter, no distracting text or comments, nothing but the video.
Sometimes less is more.

Back in the summer Ajexh Pataly wrote a piece in Guardian pointing to some great pieces of film to be found inside YouTube.
The list provoked further discussion about copyright as some clips were posted by fans, not the owners of the copyright material.
I'm just going to watch them while I can.

At the time two clips in particular caught my attention.

James Brown signing with Pavorotti! and Stravinsky conducting the Firebird.

Just magic!

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A Social Beat Box

Boom Diggy Diggy Diggy Boom.


(via Robot Wisdom)

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Web 2.0, City Academies and Money

Criticisms made of Web 2.0 facilities often  run along the lines of "What happens if the company you are using goes bust, turns off it's servers, starts to charge, loses interest, sells your details to the highest bidder etc. etc."

Well take a little look at what's happening to this City Academy.

"Governors reassured parents that it was "business as usual for all
students" and said reports about Amey's involvement should not give
cause for concern."


They've been saying that about banks of late.

Now I know that a Web 2.0 type services provider and a City Academy are not really the same kind of beast ..... but what would happen if Google put up their prices or started to charge for something that many of us might have to come to depend on.

Where are my digital photographs stored? Where are my blogs backed up? Where is my address book? My college emails? My pieces of collaborative writing?

Time to think about my backing up policy! 

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Ivory Towers

I came across this earlier.

"Sometimes, it’s worth flashing a bit of a public reminder that even
though it seems like lots of us are deeply passionate about this space,
most folks don’t exactly understand what we’re talking about. That’s
because technically, they don’t need what we do to make money and go on
with their lives. They’re happy. Take a cab ride and ask them about
Twitter. Ask the folks at the grocery store if they’re on LinkedIn.
Check and see whether anyone at the local pizza place has a blog."

We should all remember it

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Not enough Digits!

The world is coming to an end!

What's to be done?

Drop the dollar sign!

Do we have one of these clocks in the UK, in Wales?

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On Lust

I so want to visit here.

I think I'd feel at home!

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On Speed

I know it makes sense .......

But ......

Big Brother is getting closer and closer

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Firefox Mobile?

While exploring the Safari browser on my iPhone I wondered if Firefox was available.

A little search brought me these two links.

Firefox Mobile Concept Video.

Aza's Thoughts.

Enjoy. And think about some of the concepts described here.

I'm off to read the forums.

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Colleges and the Credit Crunch.

Is this a warning of things to come?

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Searching the Beeb

I have to confess that I tend not to use the BBC's search service (depending on Google for everything), but the new upgrade to BBC Search seems a good thing.

Searching a subject within the BBC site now produces links to tv and radio programmes in iPlayer as well as the traditional articles, BBC web pages and external links.

The look of the results page has also been changed, it looks crisp, clear and modern.

I might just have to add it to my list of search engines.

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On Goggles.

It's late.

I'm home from my book club, happy, and slightly under the influence, having drunk several glasses of excellent red wine.

Google just know that am in no fit state to be allowed to send anyone an email.
Google Goggles will take control.

Before I can Gmail anyone on and Friday or a Saturday night I will be required to answer a few simple maths questions. 

Get them wrong, the email doesn't get sent!
Maths was never my strongest subject.

So in future if you don't get an email from me, don't blame me, blame the Goggles.

Do you suppose the Goggles should be applied to my blog too?

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Monday, October 06, 2008

On American Politics, the Internet and Twitter.

You will remember some months ago I commented upon the way in which Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama were using Twitter to pursue their political objectives. I followed them they followed me.

Hilary is no longer as involved but Barack continues to lead the way in his use of technology.
Take a look at his web site.

Here is a politician who is really making every effort to connect and stay connected with his electorate in the United States, and with admirers world wide.

Looking at his web site we see a complete mastery of the internet as a medium for mass communication. This election campaign and his digital presence has raised the bar for politicians everywhere. He has achieved a world wide ambient presence.

On his web site, the home page is easily navigable, neat and clearly laid out. The navigation bar guides or leads visitors to information quickly and elegantly.

Casual and determined browsers are invited via rollovers to learn about Barack and his team and to discover what he thinks about the major issues. Users are offered a rich choice of Barack media sources (wallpapers, music and the like) and direct links to all the different types of people who have chosen to support Barrack. Additionally the site provides a Blog, a store for Barack merchandising and links to local Barack websites in each American state. And as you might expect there are opportunities for the faithful to contribute financially.

There is a list of things to do, including a reminder to register to vote (lets face it Americans need help in coming to terms with Democracy). There are videos, news articles, messages to Hilary's supporters and an astonishing list called Obama Everywhere.

Obama Everywhere provides links to sixteen yes sixteen places on the Internet where Barack can make his presence felt ..... worldwide.
So comprehensive is this list that I am copying it here.

Obama can be found on

Facebook, MySpace, You Tube, 
Flickr, Digg, Twitter, Eventful, 
Linkedin, BlackPlanet, Faithbase, 
Eons, Glee, MiGente, MyBatanga, AsiaAve 
DNC Partybuilder.

This man is connected! (he even has his own app on the iPhone).


Knowing that Number Ten Downing Street can be found on Twitter I thought I'd have a little look round and explore the world of political tweets.

Consider the statistics (as of 6/10/08)

Plaid Cymru are on Twitter with 35 followers.
The Labour party are on Twitter with 133 followers.
The Liberal Democrats are on Twitter with 542 followers.
The Conservative Party is on Twitter with 606 followers.

Ten Downing Street is on Twitter, with 5,104 followers.
The White House is on Twitter with 1,174 followers

McCain is on Twitter with 2,451 followers.
Obama is on Twitter with 92,256 followers.

Note John McCain also has a web site, but in my opinion it's not a slick as the Obama offering.
Take a look and see what you think.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Google Blog Search

You may not have noticed but Google has changed the look of it's Blog Search Homepage.

On the new page related stories are grouped together into groups, together with a numerical count of the number of blogs discussing the story. This creates a hierarchy of subjects, showing what's hot or not.

Additionally the page carries a list of links to "Top Stories" in a curious mix of topics.
Politics, US, World, Business, Technology, Video Games, Science, Entertainment, Movies, Television, Sports.

Once you undertake a search of your own, the blog search results look as they have always done.

Some commentators have noted that the Blog Search Homepage is not unlike early versions of sites like Digg.  I agree.

The change to the Blog Search Homepage to my mind makes the page more interesting, and more likely to encourage me to stray from my intended search area, a sort of of accidental Stumbleupon.

If it is designed to lead us further into the world of unknown bloggers, it works. 

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

American Thoughts

On Moblie "Facebook"

When first started to use my iPhone the first app I downloaded was Facebook, which was a mistake because I was a little disappointed.
It worked, it connected with my Facebook, but only just.

Now "Facebook for iPhone" version two has been released and it is SO much better.

A clever interface makes it seem very much like the desktop version with the bonus of no third party applications ( it is a shame they exist). It seems faster to use and is easier to navigate.

Version 2.0 provides happy users with notifications, full news feeds and notifications, a search facility, friend requests (not that happens very often any more) photo tagging and captioning, the entire inbox plus the sent folder and the updates tab.

All with out needing to turn the phne sideways to use the landscape view (which doens't seem available on this app?)

Impressive stuff and it's free!

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Friday, September 26, 2008

On "American Politics"

Of late, much has been broadcast, written, and blogged about the rapidly approaching American Presidential Elections.

Some say that there is too much comment.

I'm not going to comment but I am going to point in the direction of this CBS interview showing Sarah Palin talking about her Foreign Policy experience and geography.
(The clip begins with an advert, be patient).

Be scared, very, very scared!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Iphone On a Hill.

This post is to show how easy it is to prepare a blog post using the iPhone. The Blog Press application allows for blogging to a range of blogs, allows the posting of photographs and the creation of drafts.

It's a little slower than typing on a keyboard but with practice I am getting quicker.

The photo taken with the relatively low spec iPhone camera shows the view up the Taff valley from here.

I think the Treforest estate and the A470 can be clearly seen. In the distance the University of Glamorgan.

I think the photo is geo tagged, but I'm not certain how to access the information, yet.

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, September 22, 2008

Google, YouTube and Rory Cellan-Jones.

Creative users of YouTube (ie producers of content not consumers of content) might want to read this post by Rory Cellan Jones on the  BBC blog where they might learn something to their advantage.

Now I begin to see how YouTube is going to make money.

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On Listening to a Song about Twitter

I'm really not sure how (it might have been via Fimoculous) but I stumbled across this little song about Twitter.

Watch the video.

Buy the T shirt

Read the lyrics and meditate upon the History of Web 2.0 technology.

Sometimes the truth hurts.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

On blogging from my iPhone

This is an experiment to see how easy or not it is to blog from my phone.
I've added a photo to see what the formatting will look like.
Now I'm a mobile blogger!

-- Post From My iPhone

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

On Spiders and Flash and Life.

I'm not a fan of the arachnids.

I'm don't mind looking at them outdoors, but inside ..... Help.

A spider in the classroom never caused me any problems, it's easy to catch and remove a spider when the eyes of thirty interested children are watching your every move.

But in the house, someone else has to do it ....

These thoughts were prompted by this superb experimental project to make a natural spider in flash.


Make sure you watch the video too.

(via redferret)

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

All at Sea with Google.

The ever interesting Fimocuculous asks "Is Google Starting it's Own Country?" and points to an article on Radar, which in turn points to an article credited to the Independent but actually in The Times.

"The company is considering deploying the supercomputers necessary to operate
its internet search engines on barges anchored up to seven miles (11km)
offshore. The “water-based data centres” would use wave energy to power and cool their
computers, reducing Google’s costs. Their offshore status would also mean
the company would no longer have to pay property taxes on its data centres,
which are sited across the world, including in Britain."

How clever is that?

Imagine all our data, our google docs, this blog, our search history all at sea.


"Offshore status" would also I guess place all our data far far away from any prying governments.
I wonder where these barges would be registered ie. what flags would they fly?

Presumably the data would have to be backed up on land which would still result in energy costs.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

On Using "new technology"

He's going to say it again!

"At Plaid's conference in Aberystwyth he will insist the party embraces new technology to reach young voters."

It will be interesting to see what this sentence actually means.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Storm in a Teacup.

Change is always uncomfortable and often difficult to manage.

Facebook has changed.
We knew it was coming, had a chance to become used to it, a chance to make comments, a chance to be involved.
Facebook have approached their facelift sensibly.

I'm not that keen on some of it, I can't find things, I forget to click through the tabs. but I'll learn.

And all those vampires, and questionnaires and the lolcats will be somewhere else......

It's a good move, well done Facebook.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

On Hi Tech Cheats.

As we slide towards the beginning of a new academic year an interesting article by Moira Sharkey, can be seen in today's Western Mail.

It reports that 1,600 students have been caught cheating at Welsh Universities over the last three years. Most were guilty of plagiarism, some guilty of cheating in exams.

According to the article, over the last three years among Welsh Universities the University of Glamorgan has disciplined the most students. A statistic rightly defended by the University as they take "cheating seriously and work hard to catch the culprits"

As is ever the case, the statistics are incomplete as Welsh Universities have different methodologies and systems for publishing annual records but they do show that Welsh Universities are engaging with and beating plagiarists.

Many students enter University unaware of how academic work is assessed in Higher Education and are often ill prepared for the vast gulf that exists between sixth form and undergraduate life.

Ben Gray (of NUS Wales) comments on this in the article

“NUS Wales recognises that there are huge differences in the way that
higher education is conducted and assessed compared with secondary
education and as such these are issues that student unions across Wales
are assisting institutions in helping students understand the system.”

While NUS Wales should be commended for assisting students understand the University way of thinking, work needs to be done to ensure that schools understand what Higher Education expects and that Universities are perhaps a little more aware of their student's shortcomings.

Many sixth formers (digital natives?) are ill prepared for the rigour of academic essay writing and the associated referencing processes, as they have passed through a school system where the cut and paste mentality of project and course work has been encouraged and endorsed by the actions of their parents, teachers and peers. This is not totally the fault of the schools or the teachers. It is a way of thinking that has been encouraged by the system. Now that course work is being downgraded schools need to do much more to prepare students for University life and Universities need to do more to integrate undergraduates in academic life.

If Higher Education is seen to be actively confronting and disciplining those guilty of cheating, not only will the numbers of those cheating be reduced but public confidence in the quality of Higher Eduction qualifications will be restored.

The figures should be published openly and shared with the current and prospective student
communities, so that it can be seen that Universities deal with cheats. It is quite strange to me that the figures have come to lightas the result of an enquiry from Chris Franks AM.

Perhaps they should be published annually by the WAG, published in University prospectuses
or on University Web sites. They should most certainly be shared with new students during Fresher's weeks.

Of course catching the cheats is one thing, deciding what to do with them is another.

A first year undergraduate caught plagiarising is quite likely to have plagiarised unwittingly or unknowingly. A third year undergraduate or a Master's degree student caught plagiarising is guilty of completely different kind of cheating.

Can you remember hearing of anyone being "sent down" ?

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

On Social Networking and Plaid Cymru

I read that Dafydd Iwan folk singer and politician has been re-elected as president of Plaid Cymru.

A strange event to be worthy of comment here On the Hill except that Mr. Iwan, a clever, passionate influential Welshman has promised

"to bring the party into the 21st Century with an emphasis on making the most of social networking sites to build support".

I wonder how he proposes to do that in a country where the digital divide is still causes concern.

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Google in Space ?

This story has been reported all over the internet, but it's still worth noting.

Remember the phrase "eye in the sky" ?

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Thursday, September 04, 2008

On Google Chrome.

I've not looked at Google Chrome yet (I just love my Mac), but it's arrival on Tuesday has resulted in a torrent of speculation, observation and hysteria.

Yes we might be seeing the next chapter in the Browser Wars, but right now Google chrome is a new untested product. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari and Opera have the browser market covered. The new Google product will have to be good to make its presence felt.

Even now with Firefox seeming to be the browser of choice for many of my colleagues, it is still only used by less than twenty percent of internet users.

Somehow I can't see Chrome cutting up that market. Despite that I've signed up with Google to be informed when Chrome for the Mac appears, just in case.

As is so often the case with Google the user agreement paper work for Chrome wasn't quite correct.

More food for thought.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Apparently "LLoyds Is Pants"

Reading the news today I came across this story.

As someone who often struggles with creating and remembering passwords, how I wish I had Mr Jetley's imagination.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

On the Olympics

On missing the end of the Tour de France.

Sadly, I missed the end of the Tour de France as our holiday cottage had limited tv reception, no internet, and no mobile phone reception.

We picked it that way honest.

Fortunately Big Picture helped me catch up.

It's what the internet is for!

On Delicious Things.


I'm back from walking on Bodmin Moor, struggling to catch up with my feed readers, emails, favourite reads etc. etc.

I've only been away a week and yet so much has happened.

I came across this Delicious post. Watch the movie to learn more.

Finally I know what to call it.

I love the new interface, now all I need to do is edit sort and finish bundling my tags ( as if I will!).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

On Facebook libel.

Interesting story.

A reminder to take care before creating false maicious profiles.

This story reminded me of the Fake Steve Jobs who alas is no longer with us.

On Researching Drunks in Cardiff

I live in Cardiff so it's always good to see the city of my birth in the news.

I walked sober through town last Tuesday afternoon.

It strikes me that further research is urgently needed to determine how it might be made possible for pedestrians to walk the length of Queen Street without :-

  • being hassled by professional charity collectors in tabards (I don't mean sellers of the Big Issue),
  • being presented with leaflets about Chinese medicine and all it's benefits,
  • being eyed up (and rejected) by women with clipboards undertaking market research,
  • being invited into a mobile phone shop by an adolescent in a suit,
  • being approached by a spiv in a suit wondering if I've had an accident worth taking to court,
  • being offered the opportunity of purchasing a guide to the Hare Krishna movement, 
  • being offered the opportunity to purchase one or all of a pair of designer sunglasses, a silk head scarf, my name displayed as a piece of bent wire, AA or RAC membership, a balloon on a stick, a temporary tattoo or a cuddly toy,  
  • running the risk of being run over by a cyclist.

None of those things happen to drunks.

Friday, July 18, 2008

On Cheating!


Now; if they can do it in sport (and it's taken them long enough), why can't we do it in education?

Monday, July 14, 2008

On Blogging.

Jorn Barger is one of the greats of the Internet. He introduced us to the phrase web log, which in turn became blog and he still lovingly produces Robot Wisdom the first link blog.

When I started to take an interest in blogs and the process of blogging I read Robot Wisdom diligently. It led me to corners of the web I barely knew existed. He introduced me to other link blogs, interesting photographs of space, reminded me of the genius that was James Joyce and rekindled my love of Kate Bush.

I was therefore interested to notice Rex at Fimoculous pointing to a post by Jorn in which he comments on observations made by Warren Ellis at The Patchwork Years

On the Patchwork Years Warren suggests

"That’s been the job of half the web, for the last several years — collating links from the other half of the web."

He continues

"The world does not need another linkblog. What is required, frankly, is what we’re supposed to call “content” these days. When I were a lad, back in the age of steam, we called this
“original material.”"

Jorn disagrees,

"in the blogosphere-to-come, everyone should put themselves out there
100%, linking everything they like, and subscribing only to those feeds
that match their own tastes best."

I'm with Jorn.

Only in Wales.

Having met this creature I can vouch for this story!

Friday, July 11, 2008

On Bras!

Forgive me but I have noticed that bras have been in the news this week!

First I read of Abbie Hawkins who discovered a bat in her bra, after wearing it for five hours!

Then I read of a facebook group called Busts 4 Justice!

I think I should join.

It seems that in Marks and Spencer DD bras are more expensive than bras for smaller busts.
An unfair tax on large busts says the founder of Busts for Justice.

M and S say larger bras require more material so are more expensive, maybe so, but why doesn't that logic apply to all articles of clothing?

Those of you interested in bras, might find this place of use.
It's a shop with virtual models to help the male of the species buy underwear for his loved one!

It's what the internet was invented for!

On Exams, Christopher Glamorganshire and blogging.

While reading Chris Cope's excellent "Dancing the Polka with Miss El Cajon" I have to confess that his observations about writing under exam conditions reminded me of something I have thought for a long time.

Students (and I was and am one) work all through the academic year using their desktop or laptop computers and then in examination rooms they are asked to write longhand.


During their course all submitted work has to be word processed and either printed or submitted electronically (or both), then in the exam they are asked to write longhand under extreme pressure.


During lectures those that take notes (and not many do) will write in longhand, copying down the thoughts of their lecturers; but note taking is not essay writing and to my mind provides little preparation for answering exam questions. In writing this post I am rather dependent upon my word processing skills, constantly changing the order of sentences, words and paragraphs. Word processing has changed the way that I work. The examination system used in Higher Education no longer reflects the way that we work in the real world. What are we to do?

Perhaps the time has come for word processing facilities to provided in examination rooms. Or is it time we reconsidered the role of the essay in examinations.
Either way something needs to be done.

Hidden away in the comments on Chris' blog an anonymous respondent asked about Christopher Glamorganshire which led me to this article.

It seems that an Assembly Government civil servant who lost his job for keeping a political blog has taken his case to an employment tribunal. It's likely that the case will hinge on whether or not his contract allowed for blogging.

Employers and employees will need to check their contracts and conditions of service.

Are you allowed to blog?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Digital Divide, what Digital Divide?

When some of us are still thinking about the digital divide in all it's many forms, it is somewhat refreshing to read a story like this one.

I don't suppose Cadwgan uses the internet.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

On "Big is Best"

Although it has been celebrated in many other places I have to point towards the new visual blog to be found on the site.

Called The Big Picture, it is truly truly brilliant.

Created by a genius called Alan Taylor, it provides really high quality large (990px) photographs, with minimal textual descriptions.

It is an awesome piece of work.

Go and look!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Two Google stories! Street View and YouTube

Yesterday while looking out of the bedroom window I saw a car drive past with what appeared to be a tripod on it's roof with camera's (?) pointing in all directions. In my head I thought ah a Google camera car. It has to be said that the car was travelling at speed, quite fast for the narrow quiet road on which I live, it's speed made me think that it couldn't have been a google surveyor but then today I read this.

"Google Street View" matches photographs to maps, providing a real 3D view of a location. If passers by or residents are in the street as the image is taken, they appear on the "Street View" display. In the States some individuals have complained about their presence and had their images removed or blurred, Google "has said it has begun to trial face blurring technology,
using an algorithm that detects human faces in photographs."

Here in the UK "Privacy International, a UK rights group, believes the technology breaks data protection laws."In our view they need a person's consent if they make use of a
person's face for commercial ends," said Simon Davis of the group.""

I wonder did they catch my face peering through the window?

The story makes my sighting of the strange camera car all the more interesting because the same news story includes this sentence. "Photographing of areas in the UK, including London, is believed to have started this week."

Coincidentally Google was in the news yesterday. A judge in the States has ruled that Google must divulge the viewing habits of every user who has ever watched a video on YouTube to Viacom. That's 12 terabytes of data! Apparently the viewing log will contain the log in ID of users, the computer IP address and details of the video clps watched.

Scarey stuff. Once Viacom have the data what will they do with it.

This court case raises once again all sorts of questions about the vast amounts of personal data held by social networking sites, ISPs, Google, etc.etc.

Big Brother has not gone away!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

On "How to Confuse an idiot".

Smile broadly.

I came across this via BuzzFeed.

It has no place on this blog, but it made me laugh (out loud).

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Clive Sinclair and the Internet.

As a child I saved for ages to buy one of Sir Clive's famous calculators. As a teenager I was the proud owner of one of Sinclair's Spectrum computers; in fact it still sits in the attic.

So I guess he had quite an impact on my life.

But did you see or hear what he had to say yesterday about the internet?

"I don't use it myself directly," he said, explaining that as an inventor he tried to avoid "mechanical and technical things around me so they don't blur the mind".
Do you suppose the internet does blur the mind; or does it open it?
I think it's opened mine, but then I didn't invent a home computer, I just use one.

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Monday, June 30, 2008

On the iPlayer beta

The wizards at the BBC have been hard at work and have let the next version of iPlayer into the word. I've spent little time exploring but it's lovely!.

I turned to it on Saturday to watch Dr. Who and Elbow at Glastonbury (note fast forward four minutes).
Watching Davros and the Daleks on my Mac Book Pro was a delight, even from behind the sofa!

My only complaint as you might expect is that I still can't download programmes on the Mac, but that facility will be here soon so I should be patient.

The new site brings together TV and radio in one place, a sort of super media portal for all the BBC on demand services. They say that sound quality is improved, and the screen is 640 pixels bigger. There's some scheduling information, last played programme information and an excellent scrolling carousel. Watching television is just more fun using the iPlayer interface. The Yesterday on TV display is a clever idea, as is the bringing together of radio and televison programmes in the categories displays. If you have to stop watching a streamed programme, on returning it starts to play where you left it; no more fiddling and estimating running times.

At present the beta version is running in parallel with the mark one player, but I have read somewhere that it will be going fully live in July.

Since iPlayer arrived I have exceeded my ISP download limits twice, it's time to sign up for a new contract

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

On Baby's Bums, Asda and a Birthday Cake

It has been reported here and here (nsfw), that a mother who attempted to purchase a birthday cake from Asda for her twenty one year old son, featuring a nude photograph of him taken when he was five months old; was told tht the photograph would have to be censored as it showed him nude.

Asda deny thinking that the photograph was pornographic, it's just that their "policy across the board" is that they "don't do nudity of any sort at any age".

In the end staff solved the problem by covering baby David's bum with a star!

Is this the sign of a healthy society?

I wonder do they have a policy about selling cigarettes, or cheap alcohol?

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

PowerPoint to YouTube

I've not used this yet but can see that it's a powerful tool.

authorSTREAM is an online sharing site that allows the free uploading of PowerPoint presentations but facilitates their sharing with friends, students, or co-workers.

It seems authorSTREAM allows registered users (and it's free) to embed presentations in blogs and networks, or share them via YouTube, which means that they become viewable almost anywhere and on nearly any platform including iPods.

YouTube rules the world in terms of video sharing, this could be another nail in the coffin of VLE's


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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

On Driving with Google....

Well, look at this, came across it via Gizmodo

It's a driving simulator, sort of, powered by Google maps.

It's a shame that it doesn't notice when you leave the road or crash into things but wow it's a lot of fun!

Four types of vehicle, three types of map, simple controls,indicators and the whole world to play with!

Monday, June 09, 2008

On the iPhone 3G

Well who would have guessed?

There's a second generation iPhone on the way!

Engadget blogged the whole event.
Read it here, and look at the pretty pictures.

Remember when I wanted an iPod nano?

I still don't have an iPod touch, but I'm lusting after this phone.
I wonder if the contracts will still be as expensive.
I'm not certain it was the cost of the phone that stopped people getting one, I think it was the price of the contract

Thursday, June 05, 2008

On The Apprentice, Plagiarism and CVs

I am a fan of The Apprentice.
This evenings episode had my full attention, while the remaining candidates were interviewed by Sir Alan's colleagues and friends.

It was entertaining, interesting, and unsettling viewing.
Lee's interview revealed that his CV was not all it could have been; containing some fairly basic spelling errors and what were described as inaccuracies.

Consider the spelling/grammar mistakes on a CV word processed by a man who is a sales manager for the Capita Group applying for a job as Alan Sugar's apprentice.

You might think that he would have used a spell checker; the errors highlighted included tommorrows, fulfill, ambtion, and recoingsed!
Perhaps they were typos, perhaps not. Perhaps he can't spell, perhaps he's dyslexic.
He should have checked or asked a friend to check for him. Does he not have a secretary?
Scribefire (the blogging extension for Firefox) is showing me his mistakes as I write.

Why didn't he notice?
He was writing a CV, an application for a job, and it was full of errors.
I'm not certain I would have even short listed him.

What was more worrying was the fact that he had been less than honest about his educational background, claiming to have been in receipt of a college education for two years when he actually left the course after four months!

The impression the programme gave was that this was forgivable, which is unforgivable. He lied.
Would you employ him?

Industry claims that job applicants cannot spell, are barely numerate, often lacking in social skills and ill prepared for the business environment.
In The Apprentice, a highly visible, televised selection process, the selectors note that some applicants cannot spell, lack social graces and do not always tell the truth but they still select them.


Like Universities identifying plagiarists, Lee's interviewer spotted the lie.
What is the difference between plagiarism and fabricating a CV?

On Plagiarism

Here is a curiously interesting story that requires a little thought and action.

BBC education reporter Sean Couglan notes that the Higher Education Authority and JISC have established the Academy JISC Academic Integrity Service "to help promote a culture of academic integrity in UK Higher Education"

It would appear that they face a monumental task.

"A study found only 143 students caught cheating were expelled out of
9,200 cases - despite almost all universities threatening expulsion as
a sanction."

I guess that tells us that the sanction isn't working.

"despite the repeated warnings to students not to cheat by using
someone else's work, those caught are unlikely to face particularly
severe penalties.

More than 98% of students caught cheating were allowed to stay
at their university - even though some of these students had been
caught before."

Perhaps more disturbing is the observation that

"the recorded level of plagiarism among postgraduate students was so
much higher than the recorded level among undergraduate student,"

It seems that the colleges face a problem.

Plagiarism can and is being detected.

The question is what should be done with the plagiarists?

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Facebook and Privacy

Like toothache some doubts just never go away.

The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Group based at the University of Ottawa has filed a complaint against Facebook citing 22 separate breaches of privacy law in Canada.

As is ever the case Facebook refutes the charges suggesting that

"We pride ourselves on the industry leading controls we offer users
over their private information. We believe that this is an important
reason that nearly 40% of Canadians on the internet use our service.

"We've reviewed the complaint and found it has serious factual
errors, most notably its neglect of the fact that almost all Facebook
data is willingly shared by users."

Notice the phrase "almost all Facebook data is willingly shared by users".

I think that is just not the case.
Many , many Facebook users have no idea how their personal data is used, manipulated and exploited for Facebook's commercial advantage.

The concept of social networking and privacy seem incompatable.

Perhaps it's time for us all to become hermits

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

On the Biggest Hoax Drawing in the World

On the sublimely wonderful Strange Maps I came across this story.

A Swedish artist drew a self portrait on the map of the world, by using a GPS device, a suitcase, an airline and as it has since been revealed a sense of humour.

Writing on the project website the artist states

“My pen was a briefcase containing the GPS device, being sent around
the world. The paths the briefcase took around the globe became the
strokes of the drawing.” The resulting drawing’s dimensions are
40,076,592 by 40,009,153 meters – which are about the dimensions of the
Earth’s surface, if it could be rolled out as a canvas."

The website carries a mass of information, the finished drawing, youtube videos of the design process, pictures of the suitcase, travel instructions, delivery notes and finally four words written in red "This is a fictional work"

I'll own up, for a while I was fooled, and I should have known better!

Remember, not everything you read on the Internet is true, no matter how much we wish it was.

On Student Failure

Interesting article that raises many points that may be of interest to those of you working in Higher Education.

On Talent

In the States there's a programme called So You Think You Can Dance.

This guy can. Watch him and wonder about "Britain's Got Talent"

SYTYCD Season 4 - Robert Muraine - Audition

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On Competition for Amazon

Borders my favourite bookshop is returning to the world of online book selling with a truly magnificent new store.

It's only available in the States at the moment but the UK version doesn't seem to be far away.

I can't wait.

I just love the magic shelf, it scrolls left and right, up and down; a joy to browse on my Mac.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

On Tune Glue

As a result of reading Very Short List I came across tuneglue, a site where I have since spent far too long exploring the music of my middle years!

Tune Glue is a "relationship explorer", type in the name of a band or musical artist and the site displays an interesting visual display showing a group of similar artists, clustered around the original query. I love it. The display is a joy, I love the way the clusters bounce on the screen as new entries vie for attention.

I'm not sure that the relationships displayed offer anything I didn't already know, but it is so good to be reminded of groups and artists currently residing on vinyl in my attic.
Selecting Yes as a starting point provided me with links to King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Rush, Genesis, ELP, and Anderson Bruford Wakeman and Howe. Selecting King Crimson added Camel, Van der Graaf Generator, Robert Fripp and Gentle Giant.

One click brings up a list of each artists releases and track titles, and a quick link to Amazon to allow easy purchase.

I might be spending a lot of money on music in the very near future!

Monday, May 19, 2008

On Politics and Web 2.0.

I see that Gordon Brown, our Prime Minister is taking an interest in Web 2.0 technologies.

Here on the Downing Street Channel he's posted a video, launching a sort of Prime Minister's Question Time on the Internet.

Members of the public can leave a question for Gordon, between 30 seconds and 1 minute long with "no party political content"!
Submissions must be made by June 21st.

We are invited to "come back soon to vote on your favourites". Then having considered the "wisdom of the masses"
Gordon will answer the top voted questions on YouTube sometime towards the end of June.

It's not exactly what you could call instant interactivity, but it's a start.
I think it's quite an interesting and brave experiment.

Looking at the video on YouTube, away from the Downing Street Channel I see that Gordon's introduction has been viewed 13,230 times. That's not bad for a 40 second video clip that was posted barely three days ago.

I also notice that the channel has 3,725 subscribers, while webcameronuk has 846 subscribers.

As you might expect mainstream media has picked up on the story, here, here and here.
Apparently several thousand people have already submitted questions.

PS Gordon already has a presence on YouTube. You can sing along here.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

On Toads

I came across this interesting and curious story thanks to growabrain

If the reports are to believed it seems that two days before the catastrophic earthquake hit China, the toads in a town called Taizhou decided to move out.

Did they sense the coming of the quake?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

On Being a Student of Economics .....

I love this story.

A mother wrote of her son's experience studying Economics at Lancaster University.

"I, very wrongly it seems, assumed that he would be fully engaged. He
is now quite addicted to alcohol, smokes and has spent a great deal of
time over the last nine months asleep".

What is it that students actually do?

Saturday, April 26, 2008


This is such an important little article.

"why aren’t Google, Microsoft, and other
mainstream media sites putting a giant “CLICK ME, I CAN SAVE YOU TIME
AND MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER!” button on all of their pages, versus the
ubiquitous yet sorely unknown RSS icon?"

One in Three or Clueless in America!

One of the topics in which I take an interest is "student retention".

It is a worry to politicians that despite their best efforts to encourage everyone to go to college, students drop out of college.

We worry too much; not everyone needs a college education.
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were both dropouts.

Kottke as ever a source of interesting information points at this wonderfully titled New York Times article about the American college drop out rate.

Here are two quotes to ponder.

"An American kid drops out of high school every 26 seconds.

Roughly a third of all American high school students drop out. Another
third graduate but are not prepared for the next stage of life — either
productive work or some form of post-secondary education."

Somewhere in this discussion we are missing the point,
should all of these students have been there in the first place?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

More On Coffee

I've had an email from Joffrey's thanking me for participating in their blogging for free coffee promotion.

They tell me that my coffee is on the way. I hope so because this BBC report suggests that drinking coffee might have benefits for me.

It seems that
"Coffee may cut the risk of dementia by blocking the damage cholesterol can inflict on the body"
You can read an abstract of the original paper here

Not that I need an excuse to drink coffee.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Perfect Woman!

I never get bored surfing the net.

Just take a quick look at this lady.

(via kottke and Fimoculous)

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Whipping and Crucifixion can harm your health

On Maundy Thursday, somehow it is only right that I should point to this story from the Manila Times via BBC news and The Telegraph.

It seems that whipping and crucifixion can be bad for your health.

In the Philippines, devout Christians are being urged to use "well maintained whips" for self flagellation and to get tetanus vaccinations before being crucified. Additional advice has been provided to ensure that crucifixion nails are properly disinfected before use.

Happy Easter everyone.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Uh Oh!

Here's an article that might be of interest to readers in Wales with an interest in Higher Education.

It appears that European Commission Auditors have concerns about monies claimed by Welsh Universities for overheads claimed and paid for as part of Objective One projects.

A Welsh Assembly spokesman said

" The eligibility of overheads claimed by universities was raised during external audits by the Welsh Assembly Government as part of the routine audit programme. Universities will not be asked to repay Objective One overheads where they can demonstrate that they have claimed them in accordance with the EC approved methodology. As with all European funding, if project sponsors are unable to demonstrate that they have claimed expenditure in accordance with EC guidelines they may be required to repay grant on any ineligible expenditure."


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Friday, March 14, 2008

On Coffee

Joffrey's Coffee and Tea Company in Florida has an interesting marketing campaign running.

In their "java beta test" campaign in exchange for your meat space address, email address and blog address Joffreys are offering ten thousand bloggers a free sample of their flavoured "Jamaican Me Crazy" coffee and a link from their special Java Beta Test link page.

I love coffee, couldn't help myself and signed up.

So far the promised linkage has brought "On a Hill" three visitors.

Not many, but not surprising as I'm just one of the thousand or so bloggers already listed and writing about flavoured coffee.

It's clever.

Before this campaign started I'd never heard of Joffreys.
I have now; and so have you!

When and if my free cup of coffee arrives I'll let you know what it's like.

There's no such thing as a free cup of coffee.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Welsh Digital Divide?

The BBC continues to work hard to integrate its mainstream media transmissions with those of us that inhabit the web. There is doubt that their researchers, producers and managers are working hard to drag us into the connected twenty first century.

This morning on the Internet Blog, Max Gadney points us at the visualisation of comments from BBC News' Have Your Say. I've not watched any of the programs, but the visualisation tool on the top right hand side of the series page is superb.

I love the way the data is presented, I love the way it's colour coded and the way it moves.
It's almost impossible to look at the graphic without clicking, exploring and digging deeper.
If I have a criticism, it's shame that the key and FAQs sometimes obscures part of the display.

Max expresses a preference for exploring the Emotions displayed by the commenters but my attention was drawn to the "Regional Display"

Can someone tell me why are their so few comments from Wales?

Could be that we in Wales are not interested in the issues presented in the program?

Does the obvious lack of comments reflect in some way the "digital divide" and reveal something about the way that the Internet is used in Wales?

Today is BBC News School Report day.

This is another example of the BBC making every effort to not only engage with it's viewers but to give "12 and 13 year olds from UK schools the chance to make their own video, audio or text based news at school and broadcast it for real"
Today "schools around the country will take part in a News Day, simultaneously creating news reports and publishing them on their school websites, to which the BBC aims to link."

A quick glance at the School Report location map shows only eight participating schools in Wales, (five of which are I believe schools where teaching is undertaken through the medium of Welsh). Not one school in Cardiff seems to be taking part!

Can someone tell me why are their so few participants from Wales?

Could be that the majority of schools in Wales are not interested in providing pupils with the opportunity to speak to a wider audience through mainstream media and the internet?

Does the obvious lack of participants reflect in some way another "digital divide" revealing something about the way that the Internet is used / taught in Wales?

How do you say Digital Divide in Welsh?

Friday, February 29, 2008

On Twitter, Hillary, Barack and Paul.

When I first heard of Twitter I was less than complementary in my judgement.
I think I was wrong.

When I noticed that Twitter was integrated within Flock, I was persuaded to try again.
At first I twittered from my Mac Book, yesterday I twittered using my mobile phone.

Wikipedia tells us that Twitter is is a
"free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send "updates" (or "tweets"; text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) to the Twitter website, via short message service, instant messaging, or a third-party applications"
"Updates are displayed on the user's profile page and instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. The sender can restrict delivery to those in his or her circle of friends (delivery to everyone is the default). Users can receive updates via the Twitter website, instant messaging, SMS, RSS, email or through an application."
I'm not certain I'll use it often, I don't need to be so connected; but there are people for whom such connectivity must be important.

I explored and searched for interesting tweets and on finding that Cardiff University was offering news tweets, I became a follower.

Encouraged and made curious by a note from Tweet, I observed that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are using Twitter. I don't suppose they do their own Twittering, their staff must do it for them; but I could be wrong.

Here are Barack's last three Twitters.
Feb. 21. Excited to learn about winning the Dems Abroad primary today. Getting ready for the Texas debate. It will be live tonight at 8pm ET on CNN.

Feb. 19. Is encouraging everyone to tell friends in Wisconsin to vote until 8pm tonight. And tell friends in Hawaii to get to their caucus by 6:30pm!

Feb. 12. Encouraging everyone in DC, MD and VA to vote today. Heading to Madison, WI for a Rally for Change event at the Kohl Center (6:15pm tonight)
and here are Hillary's
Feb. 28. I’m looking forward to the “Solutions for America” town hall in Hanging Rock, OH tomorrow in the Appalachian region.

Feb. 27. Want to help win in Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont? Visit to start making calls!

Feb.27. Today I’m attending an Economic Solutions Summit in Zanesville, Ohio followed by rallies in Saint Clairsville and Belpre.
Is it me or is there a difference in style between these two twitterers?
Is it possible to notice a diffference of style in only 140 characters?

Hillary's stats reveal that today she has 1,436 followers and has made 51 updates.
She's following no one.
Barack's stats reveal that today he has 6,661 followers and has made 73 updates.
He's following 6,793 twitterers, of whom I am one!!

Presumably if I Twitter about him, one of his staff will notice.
It seems that Hillary doesn't care about what I might say.

Ron Paul can also be found in Twitter.
His stats reveal 1,011 followers and 85 updates.
Like Hillary he's following no one.

Might we be able to predict who will win this seemingly never ending selection process by counting twits?

Blogged with Flock

Thursday, February 28, 2008

On Firefox and iGoogle

For some time now I've been researching personalised start pages including iGoogle. The problem with such pages is that you can't view the content and be elsewhere on the Internet at the same time without opening a new tab, a new window or by moving away from the start page.

Today while reading Digital Inspiration I was pointed in the direction of a Firefox extension that places iGoogle in the sidebar. How clever is that?

This provides us with the best of both worlds, full firefox capability plus continuous visible access to everything on my personalised home page. Access to all the tabs in iGoogle is provided in the sidebar, as is the ability to move widgets on the homepage and the iGoogle themes show in the sidebar!

With a careful choice of widgets, I think most of the features of Flock can be replicated using this extension.

The screen capture at the top of this post shows Firefox running with two sidebars open, one carrying sage (my feed reader) and the other running the iGoogle extension with the Facebook widget open displaying my status and my own widget showing news feeds from the faculty.

I think it's called multitasking.