Feet up!

Race Day

The Fun-1 team are going racing today. Ewan is racing around the tube with Tom the Womble porn guy, and I'm off to Bayford Meadows for an endurance kart race. I carbo-loaded for stamina at lunchtime, but I'm not entirely convinced a bellyfull of Mexican food from Chicos (formerly Maya) will do much for my power to weight ratio...

[Fri, 30 Jul 2004 15:27] | [motorsport] | #

Funny Old Week

What's going on? I feel like I've misheard or misunderstood most of the news this week, take the following for example:

How did Kiwi Java blogger and Jabber superhero Mark Talios get caught with his pants down in a menage a trois with Sven and an FA secretary? News link.

BugMeNot introduce a registration page.

Matthew is puzzled by the American bloggers' fascination with Run-DNC; a rap group famous only for slaughtering a classic Aerosmith track.

A committee of MPs declare the UK ID card fiasco to be badly thought out. No, never, who'd have thought it?!

Surreal stuff, lets hope next week is saner.

[Fri, 30 Jul 2004 15:01] | [comedy] | #

UK govt IT projects a disaster

That's pretty common knowledge in the UK, after all most government projects work on the reverse Midas principle - if a politician gets involved everything turns to shit.

However, for an all-party commitee of MPs to condemn government IT projects as "an appalling waste" might mean that the scale of the disaster is slowly sinking in.

Now tell me why they think that the id fiasco can come within even sniffing distance of the projected £6 billion?

If Big Blunkett and crew can't be persuaded of the lunacy of the proposed ID fiasco, it'll be a good time to buy EDS shares...

[Mon, 26 Jul 2004 14:28] | [rants/ukid] | #

Blogging via a Bot

What can I say, it's too trivial by half to blog via Jabber, nice one Roberto!

Update: Roberto's original post appears to have vanished into the mists of time, but the Wayback Machine has a copy

[Fri, 23 Jul 2004 16:42] | [jabber] | #

Kent Beer Festival 2004

Kent Beer Festival logo

I'm off to the Kent Beer Festival tonight, there's 120 beers to choose from, I suspect I'll find one or two that I like at the very least...

My pics from last year might give you a small flavour of what it's like, although 3000 happy people in a cow shed is hard to convey in mere words or pictures.


[Fri, 23 Jul 2004 16:08] | [general] | #

S60 Getting Started

So you've got a new shiny Symbian Series 60 phone and don't know what you can to do with it?

These are the resources that I point people to:

The majority of the applications will work on any Series 60 device, so a tip for the 7650 will generally also apply to the 3650, N-Gage, SX1, 6600 etc.

For GPRS settings, it's generally *far* simpler to use the automated services provided by the phone manufacturer's sites, Nokia's for instance will SMS you the correct settings for your phone and network, which is far less error prone than entering them by hand. See also Nokia USA Configurator.

The "must have" apps are listed in the above articles, I'd also suggest getting a Bluetooth dongle for your PC, Jon's Bluetooth guide is certainly the most comprehensive article on setting up this device that I've seen and used.

From my S60 Getting Started Wiki page - if it's missing something, add it!

[Wed, 21 Jul 2004 13:01] | [mobile] | #

Orange Tubes

Mini Orange logo Nice stuff from Orange and Transport for London. They've announced a mobile map and journey planner for Orange phones. It appears to be an update of the demo Java app that was panned by All About Symbian.

Now I've not tried either (yet), but Stuart was enthusing about it:

Orange were good enough to text me about this on Sunday. So, I now have a scrollable tube map on my phone. It's rather handy when you want to look at a tube map without looking like some kind of tourist ;-) Perfect when I'm in North London and haven't got a clue where I am!

I'll have to grab the .jar file from somewhere seeing as it's an Orange exclusive right now and I'm not on Orange.

[Sat, 17 Jul 2004 06:36] | [mobile] | #

No new telephone number for London

Lots of hysteria in the media, but nothing has changed, a London number is still 020 xxxx xxxx.

As usual maintain a straight face when someone tells you their number is 0207 blah, blah, blah, or 0208 blah, blah, blah, or even 0203 blah, blah.

The phone number as an IQ test, it's infallible in my experience. If people can't even get their own phone number right, can you trust them to do anything correctly?

A shop down the road still has 01 xxx xxxx above the door, a number scheme that was sent to /dev/null back in 1990, of course you can extrapolate the likely number for the shop from its location (outer London). But, I have my suspicions that the sign is intentionally wrong as a form of encoding to discourage stupid customers from phoning.

[Fri, 16 Jul 2004 13:28] | [rants] | #

Left Hand Meet Right Hand

Via Currybetdotnet, and Phil Wilson, a classic example of un-joined up Government and a tacit admission of one of the many blinding flaws of an identity card system.

The Home Office Identity Fraud Steering Committee has a shiny new website about identity theft and how to avoid falling victim to it.

One of their gems of wisdom is Never carry documents or plastic cards unnecessarily, fair enough that makes sense.

Then, on their What Is Being Done page they try to sell us the advantages of an identity card. Where your entire identity can be encapsulated and easily carried on one simple (easily forgeable) piece of plastic. Run that one past me again?

You just couldn't make this stuff up. I wonder how many interesting facts will appear on Government websites from soon to be redundant civil servants, if we had a real freedom of information act this stuff wouldn't be hidden anyway...

[Fri, 16 Jul 2004 13:09] | [rants/ukid] | #

IM giants offer half-hearted inter-op

Too little, too late...

AOL, Yahoo And MSN To Integrate Messaging say the headlines; the small print gives a different tale. To actually get this integration one has to buy and run some server software from Microsoft that then passes IM traffic to AIM, Yahoo, and MSN.

This form of setup can be useful in an enterprise scenario. But, it can already be done using an in-house Jabber server with gateways to the other services, so this is hardly news. The press release mentions how vital logging of IM traffic is in the financial business, but omits the essentials like SEC compliance!

Jabber has been able to provide SEC compliant archiving since January 2002, so AIM, MSN, and Yahoo are still playing catch up.

[Thu, 15 Jul 2004 09:10] | [jabber] | #

Traffic on the race track

fun-1 small logo Ewan's goals for Fun-1 seem to be well on track, we were aiming for 5000 unique visitors in July, and we've already passed 3000.

I know Ewan's a bit busy for the next few days, but I'm sure I can fill in by writing some suitable nonsense for Fun-1 that retains at least a handful of our readers, and hopefully doesn't teach us about libel law the hard way...

[Wed, 14 Jul 2004 13:29] | [motorsport] | #

Inexplicable Odeon etc.

Big meeja corps (pronounce as corpse if you like). Pah, who needs them?

Arthouse or independent cinemas seem to do the job much better. A plus point is their websites work too.

Even my local cinema the Kavanagh in Herne Bay has a mostly functional web site. A feed would be nice though, time to get the old web scraping kit out I think!

[Tue, 13 Jul 2004 20:20] | [rants] | #

Slow blogging

Funny old stuff blogging, I've not burnt out (I hope), but traffic's been light in here for the last week, apart from a couple of slightly too angry rants. Normal service should resume shortly.

It's nice to see other people taking the adult approach to the inaccessible Odeon nonsense to try to persuade the Odeon towards a saner solution than their current illegal, broken website.

So what else have I been up to? A handful of posts on Fun-1 and Mobitopia, and some background legwork for an unusual All About Symbian article that should be very interesting when it's complete, Python heads watch this space!

[Tue, 13 Jul 2004 20:02] | [general] | #

London Calling

Stuart's spotted the proposed map for London Transport in 2016. 12 years is a long time away, but it's good to see these proposals floating around; alwaystouchout has the latest plans for London Transport and expected completion dates. Better links around the South East of the capital would be great for me, and there's plenty of that going on.

There's more good tube stuff on Going Underground, and the infamous London Underground Tube Diary.

Ewan (he gets eveywhere) is also going for a Zone 1 Tube Challenge on the 30th June - basically visit every Zone 1 station in the shortest duration - I'm tempted to have a go, but I'm supposed to be karting that evening.

And finally - as they say on the radio - This isn't London. Everything you needed to know about London that the London Open Guide couldn't tell you. Useful stuff like the history of The Worshipful Company of Stanners.

[Tue, 13 Jul 2004 12:57] | [general] | #

Inaccessible Odeon


Last July I wrote about Matthew Somerville's glorious accessible Odeon site, which made their site moderately usable - not much more, we're in serious sows' ear country - for the average user.

A year on, and they bring the lawyers in, the accesible Odeon site is now no longer usable.

The original site? That's still completely unusable except with the one browser that everyone recommended you ditch for serious security reasons weeks ago (or longer).

As Matthew said in my comments section last July, when I'd queried whether the official Odeon site was legal:

... the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, which states it is illegal for a provider of services to discriminate against a disabled person by providing a service at a lesser standard than to other members of the public.

In the Act's code of practice, it states "An airline company provides a flight reservation and booking service to the public on its website. This is a provision of a service and is subject to the Act." Seems pretty clear cut to me. :)
It seems pretty clear cut to me too :(

Copyright law seems to be swiftly heading towards being the last resort of scoundrals and crooks, should it be repealed altogether? Never mind a war against drugs/terror/bullshit/aids etc, why not a war against corporate fuckwits?

[Mon, 12 Jul 2004 00:28] | [rants] | #

American Press Getting Even Sloppier

Back in November I ranted about how lightweight the New York Times' technology coverage was, now it's the Wall Street Journal's turn. This time the WSJ slips up by covering a discredited survey that suggests US outpaces the EU economically, now this may be the case - I'm no economist - but many of the criterion used to demonstrate the US's superiority are bogus.

There's plenty more to discredit this survey, and Metafilter gives it a well deserved kicking, and point to more relevant sources of information. WSJ, you should have better content than this, calling it filler would be too polite.

[Fri, 09 Jul 2004 13:00] | [rants] | #

Only 8 hours apart

For some reason a link to mudlondon came whistling in on one of my feeds today. It's something I looked at a while ago, but I couldn't get the Jabber 'bot to respond to my queries. Anyway I asked around a little, and Jim Ley pointed me in the right directions.

Mudlondon is down, but I had a quick chat on irc with Jo (aka zool) whose project it is and she was looking at possibly resurrecting it, if not in London, but in San Francisco where she's now based. She's also involved in the San Francisco OpenGuide, the SF OpenGuide is curiously sparse given that there's allegedly so many hackers in the Bay Area and that ample free geodata is sloshing around in US, I know it's new, but I still a bit surprised. Still it gives me something to prod Russ about!

One of these days, if/when I have some free time I'll have a good look at mudlondon, it can't be that hard, can it? :-)

[Mon, 05 Jul 2004 23:04] | [tech] | #

More Camp than Millets

First there was FOAF Camp - 19-20 August 2004, Campus of Twente University, the Netherlands.

Then Matthew announced that he'd got an invite to the first European Foo Camp.

Me? I'll be taking my tent to the Kent Beer Festival. With over 120 real ales and ciders, I'm sure I'll find one or two that are worth inbibing.

[Sat, 03 Jul 2004 00:19] | [tech] | #

Are All Almonds Bitter?

Matt and Russ have posted some of their thoughts about Amaretto, Nokia's port of Python for the Series 60 platform.

I agree whole-heartedly with their views, it's a great looking product, but it's currently a little incomplete (in a non-major but frustrating way), and we're all pretty much tied with NDAs to stop us engaging in our usual discussions and batting around of code.

It's no secret that I'm on the eval programme, I've mentioned it before a few times, and I was impressed by the helpful emails I received from a couple of Nokia folks earlier this week after Planet Python bizarrely grabbed my old mentions of the programme.

I still really hope that Nokia will release their Python source once they're happy with it as a basic product, to allow it to flourish as an open source project. This would make it far easier for the series 60 port to keep track with mainstream Python releases and fixes, and would also avoid the risk Amaretto becoming an oddball faux-Python that couldn't run the vast range of publicly available Python software.

[Fri, 02 Jul 2004 12:42] | [dev/python] | #

Yahoo! Playing! Dumb!

Yahoo blocked third party instant messenger applications from using their network yet again, something that all three of the locked-in networks seem to do with monotonous regularity and futility.

As Jeremy Zawodny (a Yahoo employee) pointed out this is a fundamentally pointless exercise, with significant echos of the major failings of DRM, in that the blockage gets worked around quickly and the temporary inconvience also actively encourages people to leave Yahoo as their IM of choice. In fact, Trillian users can already get around the block by getting a new patched version of the popular client. Neil Turner reports that the Gaim client and Jabber gateways were also not significantly inconvenienced by the blocking. It makes you wonder why Yahoo bothered with the exercise.

[Thu, 01 Jul 2004 13:55] | [jabber] | #

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