ID cards: Alchemy, or just bullshit?
I'm catching up on Slashdot, and I stumbled across this story -
Your Right to Travel Anonymously: Not Dead Yet.
In a nutshell it's apparently near impossible to take an
internal flight or long distance bus or rail journey in the US without
having to produce government issued photo ID. Why is this so? Here's
the Slashdot answer:
The requirement to show ID for flying on commercial passenger flights
started in 1996, in response to the crash of
TWA Flight 800.
This crash was very likely caused by a mechanical failure. How showing
ID to board a plane prevents mechanical failures is left as an exercise
to the reader.
Hardly convincing grounds, especially when one considers that all
of the September 11th terrorists had government issued ID.
To make matters even more surreal the US government are currently
refusing to confirm or deny whether a law exists that insists
identification must be shown.
This situation is absolutely nonsensical, and
Tom's allusions to alchemy
ring very true.
[Thu, 26 Aug 2004 14:19
First up against the wall
Come the revolution...
wanted much more power and has
seized control of the railways,
I wonder if anyone has told him that with power
comes responsibility, I suspect not.
Given that my journey into work on Tuesday was delayed
by over 2 hours by a combination of a broken rail, and
inept provision of alternative transport, can I assume that
Alistair is entirely to blame? Should I send him the
bill for wasting my time direct to Westminster or just
issue a writ for damages?
And what is it with politicians and hair? I've yet to see a politician
with anything like a respectable haircut, is it the twisted mind that
makes the hair rebel?
[Thu, 26 Aug 2004 14:00
Mad tea orientated goings on in
this morning. Shall I be mother?
[Wed, 25 Aug 2004 13:19
Canning Town smells
Apparently that's official.
was closed this morning because of a "funny smell",
if that's valid grounds for closing a tube station the tube
would be a far quieter emptier place...
[Wed, 25 Aug 2004 13:18
Saints and Sinners
Weird stuff down at St Mary's the last few days. First off
which Saints won with a disputed last minute penalty,
during the awarding of this the referee Andy D'Urso managed to
a Blackburn player twice,
but not send him off! So slender was D'Urso's tenuous grasp
on reality that the
have charged him
with "less than proficiently applying the laws of the game".
Then this morning the Sturrock affair moved to a conclusion
"by mutual agreement".
One wonders if this is based around the on-going James
Beattie transfer speculation. Did Luggy state "either
he goes or I do" or "if he goes so do I"?
Strange, after all you'd need your head examined
if you thought Beattie was worth more than a
tenner, yet again he wandered aimlessly through the
game, his only contributions being to fall over in
the box and tuck away the resulting penalty.
[Mon, 23 Aug 2004 13:54
apparantly endless role call of top geezers
are off to
are there to wave the
flag. Frank was going, but he appears to have been
wooed by a
beautiful young woman, lucky
I'm looking forward to following this on irc, on
channel on irc.freenode.net and on hearing the results of
Up Programme Information For People To Build Stuff With
which sounds spookily like
but done by people who know what they're doing...
One quick RDF Radio thought: if you're broadcasting a sports event,
have the current score and other stats accessible on the RDF channel.
Time of the data needs to be presented too, and preferably timing of the
event too, so you know that there's 5 minutes to go or whatever.
[Fri, 20 Aug 2004 13:58
OLB - One Line Bio
This looks like a good meme du jour
Galbraith, a one line bio is terse, readable and above all bloody
Here's mine: <olb>British; software developer; Technical Director of Fineway Solutions
Ltd; Mobitopian; Interests - networks (social, electrical,
It probably needs a bit of updating and finessing but it's certainly good
enough for starters. The interesting thing is that I pulled that straight
from my Foaf file where
olb is part of the
coincidentally co-authored by a David Galbraith :-)
[Fri, 20 Aug 2004 13:22
Big thanks are due to
for pointing me in the direction of Audioscrobbler's RDF output,
something that I'd claimed was missing, so you can now see
what I've been listening to in glorious
as well as
This in itself doesn't sound like a big deal, but it provides
a great example of using the
which is just what I needed for RDF Radio.
So what's RDF Radio? Mostly vapour right now,
but it's a concept
and I have been tossing around for a few weeks. The basic ideas of which
are a little similar to Nokia's much touted but equally vapourous
The main tenet of both is to provide some additional
metadata about an existing "Radio" audio stream
on a side channel. Visual Radio appears to be quite
tightly constrained around proving visual (wap/html based?)
user oriented information over GPRS as an adjunct to FM radio.
RDF Radio on the other hand is intended to provide timely pure
RDF/XML metadata that supplements any broadcast stream;
FM, AM, webcast and much more. The initial thoughts are to
provide information such as:
- Station name
- The station's frequency, web site, schedule etc.
- The current programme name, and related info (the programme
or presenter's web page, the time of the show etc.)
- The current track, and links to anything we can find
As you can imagine this could be a very rich data set,
website (and their
page for instance) provides some indication of just how much
metadata could be easily obtained with some simple web scraping,
although ideally the station owners would generate the
RDF Radio data themselves.
What could one do with the RDF Radio data?
One immediate idea would be to emulate Visual Radio.
But with well constructed metadata one can do far more
than that, even constructing personal radio stations
stitched together from your listening preferences and
the playlists of many radio stations. With sufficient
processing and time shifting of streams, you could
construct a virtual iPod that "contained"
your favourite tunes.
[Wed, 18 Aug 2004 13:04
Putting "Feet up!" on the map
With any luck, this should
"Feet up!" on the map.
Out of the handful of UK based mapping sites
really seem to be getting a clue about getting Bloggers
engaged in using their product.
Richard Rutter of
explains how to
put your blog on the map.
Multimap are also one of the better sites for the old
a map and save it on your mobile
trick that's just so useful when venturing into an unknown
part of town.
Also fun on the mapping front is
rather funky zooming map viewer.
[Mon, 16 Aug 2004 14:16
Where's Jabber heading?
An interesting proposal from Peter St. Andre on
Jabber should be going,
he's suggesting that the core protocols are basically sane
(I've not dug into them in enough depth to find significant
holes in that argument), and that what's holding Jabber back
is the lack of a standard client and server.
His idea is because so many of the current servers and clients
appear to be small-ish half finished projects, and concentrating
the efforts from these dozens of projects into one master project
may be far more fruitful. I'm thinking tower of Babel, but you never
know, with a little co-ordination and ego-soothing this may be
I think some of the current clients are actually maturing nicely,
are certainly very usable, so I'm not sure about the demand
for a standard client. However, perhaps something simple and
moderately lightweight would be ideal as a introductory client.
I myself used Jabber Inc's old client for a long time because
it was simple and worked.
One thing that Peter suggested that does sound really useful is
for the standard server to be aimed at a small to medium size
organisations, and I also think writing this in Python is a
good choice. Yes, I'm a Python fan, but I'm also a C++ developer
and I'm thinking of the multi-platform issues, which Python has
far fewer than many other languages.
David Thomson's also got a few
about the proposals
which follow on quite nicely from his earlier thoughts about
too, and he also seems to be veering away from a standard
client a little.
One further thought on the standard client/server, should
there be a reference implementation of the Jabber standards?
I.e. from a users' point of view they wouldn't necessarily be
the nicest or best to use, but for a Jabber developer
the protocol handling would be a textbook example of
how to do things. I suspect a well designed and very
usable fully standards compliant client/server would
be more far better.
Stop Press: Having just talked dwlt through connecting
to a few transports with Psi it seems to me that the requirement
for a simple easy-to-use working client is paramount.
[Mon, 16 Aug 2004 13:54
Nice work by Russ on
it's blindingly obvious stuff, a mobile portal for
aggregating news about a huge event, but given how much the
official Olympic site
sucks, Russ has picked a nice
It's going to be quite an Olympics for news given that
it's not started yet and two Greek stars have already been
involved in an
in avoiding drugs tests and getting hospitalised in a traffic
accident, whilst two other Greek athletes have apparantly
and is the World anti-doping chief's
on the US about drugs
a pre-emptive strike?
The opening ceremony is currently on and it rocks, bizarrely the
Americans don't get to see it for hours though, is that because there's a
hint of fake nudity?
It's strange how there's still so few good sites
with mobile content, although I seem to be getting
[Fri, 13 Aug 2004 20:50
is a great project and the
makes it even easier to use. The
points out the stupidity and anti-web nature of
the compulsory registration sites.
It makes you wonder why sites like
still try to introduce these outmoded pre-cluetrain
concepts. Imagine having the choice of two shops, one
which asked you to fill in a 3 page form for everything
you bought or one that just let you buy stuff, which
would you choose? And how exactly is pissing off your
customers a good business plan?
Incidentally, I'm very tempted to follow BugMeNot's
or demand that:
Any subsidiaries, affiliates, officers, agents, or employees of any site
employing compulsory user registration mechanisms are not authorized to
access the content or services of this site.
Draconian? Sure, but no more so than compulsory registration.
[Wed, 11 Aug 2004 13:27
I'm not the only one who considers
to be evil,
but given stuff like the
one almost has to have it installed these days.
I'm starting to have a look at some of the alternatives like
ways to record Real streams.
The intent is to gain Tivo like features, so I can watch or
listen to stuff at a convenient time or even
into something playable on my phone for the daily commute.
Little known fact - there's a command line option for the
Nokia Multimedia Convertor, so you can batch or schedule
the conversion process.
[Tue, 10 Aug 2004 13:37
We hit our
of 5000 readers for
(just). Ewan's announced the
of 6500, which to be honest we were both rather pessimistic about,
what with 3 weeks between races and a test ban. Fortunately the
have sent scads of new readers our way.
September's target? 10K? Who knows!
[Tue, 10 Aug 2004 13:23
RBU - Request By User
Or how to write less user-hostile software:
001: Don't make me wait in the dark.
This is obvious, but so many developers forget or ignore it.
Nice stuff Frank,
I hope this is the first in a long series. For starters
I'd like to suggest a related RBU - if a task takes a long time
let me do something else in the meantime.
[Mon, 09 Aug 2004 13:04
Finns on Auntie
tour continues apace, they're now in the UK. Yesterday was the
and there's plenty of action throughout the week.
at 2:45pm today (BST, i.e. UTC+1), and an interview/session on
Johnny Walker's Radio
this evening, followed on Thursday by
Radio 6 show
instore in London.
A busy schedule, it's a shame the BBC stick with the grotty Real
Audio nonsense for their streaming though.
Update (20040810): Looks like the Virgin session is
now going to be on Weds, the Johnnie Walker show was pretty good,
although Tim's voice seems to have a a life and tuning of its own.
I guess recordings will turn up on the
ftp site shortly.
Update (20040811): Monday's Johnnie Walker session is
for re-listening, and the Virgin session should be sometime between
7 and 10pm tonight on Ben Jones'
[Mon, 09 Aug 2004 13:02
Oyster Festival Watch - Sunday
And so it comes to a close, a
with plenty of activity focussed on the harbour, like the
opening and eating competitions, capped off with the
Yet another highly successful Oyster Festival, it's been really hectic in
the town all week, and the weather's been great.
[Sat, 07 Aug 2004 23:25
Oyster Festival Watch - Saturday
It's carnival time!
we'll be watching it near the start in Tankerton, and it's usually pretty
surreal, especially after seeing all the floats getting ready in
Tankerton's back roads. The procession usually gets even more anarchic
towards the end. Good stuff!
[Sat, 07 Aug 2004 09:30
Shiny New Toys
I'm playing with a few shiny new (virtual) toys right now
with the aim of making my life better or more efficient
First off: Feeds, I've mostly switched from
It's more a horses for courses sort of problem, I'm keeping
some feeds in JabRSS, but for the others I can pick and choose when to
read things in Bloglines rather than having the immediate
delivery of JabRSS. I've grabbed
quickly, don't take it too seriously yet though, there's some
feeds in there that I'll never read and others that are still
only in JabRSS. I'll have to have a look at the mobile output
of Bloglines sometime too.
Music: I've finally managed to get
to work, not sure what I was doing wrong but it's running
nicely for me now, as you can see from the oddball stuff
I've been listening to.
Last.fm are tied in with
so that my music preferences for one reflect nicely in the other.
It'd be nice to have my data in RDF or a feed or something,
but it's certainly scrapeable. The only downside is that I've
switched back to
and whilst Winamp 5 is much nicer than Winamp 3 (or whatever I last used)
I still prefer Zinf's simplicity. I should have lashed up an
Audioscrobbler contributing plugin for Zinf, rather like
but I'd never got around to it...
Moblogging: Something I've been meaning to get into, maybe
will do the trick, and it'd give me give a reason to
configure xml-rpc and update this
[Fri, 06 Aug 2004 14:05
Oyster Festival Watch - Friday
So the week's coming to a close, and
is almost like a drawing in of breath before the
hectic finale weekend. Just two mellow events today;
for 5-10 year olds in the Tower Hill tea gardens,
with local historian Tony Blake for the grown-ups.
[Fri, 06 Aug 2004 07:04