Feet up!
Friday, February 28, 2003
Live Tube map
That's handy! http://map.tfl.gov.uk/realtime.asp

From fellow Cixen Wendy Grossman's quiet blog.
Thursday, February 27, 2003
brb, are you sure?
From Danny O'Brien:
brb. wife in labour.

Nearly six years after this first happened to me, I'm still not sure if I'm "back" yet. Danny, you've got some learning ahead! Enjoy it.
Wednesday, February 26, 2003
Off for a beer tonight, at the Red Lion with my mate Rick, the only chap I know who has 26 weeks a year annual holiday. Despite this he puts in more hours per year in the "office" than most people. For the 26 weeks when he is grafting he's bobbing about on a ship somewhere on the World's oceans doing oil exploration, and that entails 12 hour shifts, 7 days a week, i.e. 26x12x7 = 2184 hours, that's an average of 45.5 hours/week for a more usual 48 week year.
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Warning feed clowns at large
I've been getting fed up with the number of 404s I've been getting from a handful of clowns persistantly attempting to download feeds I've never supplied, so thanks to the joys of Apache I've stuck some redirects to this weblog's real feed in my .htaccess file.

This is the final warning chaps, I know your ip addresses, I'll name and shame and block all access from those addresses if this continues for much longer.

For your info the three feeds that I supply are: The last two are a bit erratic as external factors can break them, so use at your own risk.
Monday, February 24, 2003
More news for the future - SMS and MMS discontinued
Tom Hume has mentioned something that I've been musing about with Russ for a while. The idea is that SMS & MMS's days as a cash cow for the mobile networks might be numbered. With SMS costing around 650/MB on the UK networks, and with it offering no decent integration with email or IM, phone based Java or Symbian IM apps could well make SMS (and MMS) obsolete overnight.

Locust seem to be aiming at a GPRS based IM approach in future, and I'm sure many other mobile message based systems will start migrating from SMS.

I wonder which UK network will be the first to spot the trend and cut SMS messages to say 0.5p each to try to retain some revenue (and to grab a load of new subscribers)?
From the news that hasn't happened yet dept.
From FutureFeedForward - Unmanned Aerial President Crashes on Korean Peninsula.

And they say it'll happen on my 77th birthday, that's something to look forward to!
Tuesday, February 18, 2003
Are all links equal?
One quick thought about all discussion of the power law distributions of importance in the blogosphere. Something that no-one seems to have mentioned so far is the big assumption that all links are equal in weight.

Just consider the links on this weblog, they fall into a number of classifications. In terms of importance I think their order should be
  • links I mention in posts (which should lose importance with age),
  • links from the blogroll (I have these in three categories, which should be reflected in their importance),
  • links to referrers,
  • the internal links to comments and archives,
  • and finally some furniture stuff like the "powered by Google" button.
That's at least seven categories or levels of importance, should they all carry the same weight? If not, how should we markup our weblogs to reflect the categories and weight we wish these links to carry? Is a one dimensional attribute called "importance" sufficient to really express the background intentions of these links?

Lots of questions, but there's more to link importance than first meets the eye.
Monday, February 17, 2003
Powered by Google
Maybe I ought to change that button on the sidebar now that Google sponsor this blog.

Or should we start talking about the Blogger search engine, and Blogger News?
Metadata update
After reading through my comments, here's a couple of quick thoughts on what I think metadata should be doing for weblogs, some of this is me banging on the same old points, some is a little new (thanks to David and Danny for keeping my grey matter ticking over).

1. Help other bloggers - standard metadata is going to help all the tools we like playing with like Google, Organica, Technorati, Blogging Ecosystem, Janes Blogosphere, Blizg etc. Give these guys better data and they can do a better job. It's the old garbage in, garbage out story.
2. Be easy to implement - this isn't a big thing for me personally, I'm a techie blogger and I'm quite happy writing in languages that are indistinguishable from Klingon for the average man in the street. But I recognise that different bloggers have different technical levels, and maybe more importantly I'm lazy and I don't believe in making something harder than it needs to be.
3. Use existing standards wherever possible - why break something that isn't broken? The Dublin Core metadata standards were put together over a period of time by smart people who also needed this sort of stuff, think carefully before adding to this, we don't want or need a Babel of standards...

Danny's mention of RDF got me thinking, I've not had a good read yet but I could see an interesting scenario where the metadata is mostly kept out of the html in a seperate RDF file and just referenced with a link element like FOAF and RSS often is. Maybe this is a good way to do things, the bandwidth usage is low, it's moderately easy to do (XML is generally easier for a computer to parse and create than html) and the seperate file could easily be created by web tools in a similar manner to FOAF-a-matic.
Friday, February 14, 2003
More meta-meta stuff
This is still nagging away at me like a toothache, fortunately it seems I'm not the only one, as David Janes of Janes Blogosphere has tried to pick up the baton and move it forward.

Since my initial rant and follow up a couple of weeks ago I've stumbled across the following disparate "standards" for weblog metadata, this isn't an endorsement because I don't think think any of them fully address the problems successfully. I'm going to be following what David gets up to with interest, for me the core requirements for any sane metadata standard are:
  1. Simple to implement
  2. Uses existing metadata standards like the Dublin Core wherever possible
  3. Non duplication of data, I shouldn't need multiple tags with the same content, it's error prone and a waste of everyone's time and bandwidth
Maybe what any successful metadata scheme needs is a set of usage requirements, maybe a series of levels, basic, standard and strict. This could then be used with a validation engine - people love this sort of stuff - look how many weblogs have Valid (X)HTML! or Valid RSS buttons, many of these would jump at the chance to have Strict MetaData! (or similar) badges on their sites.
Thursday, February 13, 2003
The original patterns book?
A Book of Five Rings (Go Rin No Sho)
Cracking result in the football...
How come it seems like I'm the only Englishman not surprised by the result last night (England losing 3-1 to Australia)?

Consider the facts:
  • England have played appallingly in friendlies and serious Internationals since the summer.
  • Sven was planning on substituting the whole team at half time (and did so), so he was obviously intending to experiment.
  • The Aussies were really up for the game.
  • The home side haven't won at Upton Park in living memory.
I could go on but I won't, still it was very nice to have a few pennies on Australia at 6-1 :-)
Wednesday, February 12, 2003
Live World Cup cricket coverage on the net
You'd have thought that cricket's governing body the ICC would have noticed some of the outcry over the lack of decent internet audio commentary of the soccer World Cup last year, but no.

However, at least I've stumbled across unofficial commentaries of India's games on rediff.com and I'll have to rely on Cricinfo's text commentary for the other games. It's bizarre, I can listen to commentary on BBC Radio 4 on long wave or Five Live Sports Extra on digital radio but not on the 'net, why the artificial boundary?
Monday, February 10, 2003
Locust - a solution?
As rumoured earlier Locust have announced a partnership with Fastxt - very cool!

The only downside being that Fastxt currently only works on Nokia's 7650 Symbian phone, but with a raft of new Symbian phones due for release in the next few months this isn't going to be a problem for long!
Thursday, February 06, 2003
Orange drop the ball, again...
After trying to cut off the Locust online community just over a year ago, Orange are back at it. Here's Locust's announcement.

For those of you who don't know about Locust, here's a potted summary: Locust was formed in the early days of GSM in the UK and only operated on the Orange network (in the days before cross network messaging). Locust initially offered SMS based functionality with mailing lists and an email to SMS gateway, the features have been greatly expanded since then, and web, wap, gprs, AIM and MSN gateways have been added. Also since the advent of cross network messaging Locust has been available to users of all the UK networks.

The main excuse from Orange seem to be using is that Locust were were using an old tariff that Orange used to offer, with a very large number of bundled SMS messages.

This was raised over a year ago and Orange and Locust agreed to work together, with Orange's OrangeImagineering R & D department providing the SMS service for Locust.

The "problem" has raised it's head again and Orange have withdrawn their support, saying that it's not commercially feasible. However this doesn't tally with Orange's introduction of a new Locust look alike service called Orange Chat which charges less than Locust. Even stranger is that Orange deny supporting Locust to obtain expertise to set up a rival service in this Register article - does their right hand know what the left is doing?

Needless to say Locust users are not taking this lying down, user support being centred around SaveLocust.org and Pucknell.co.uk on the web and savelocust.mywap.genie.co.uk on wap. Alternatives to SMS delivery are also being considered, maybe something like Fastxt.com is on the cards, it'd be nice if the networks' SMS cartel was broken, lets face it charging around 650/MB (charging 10p for a 160 character message) leaves a hell of a lot of scope for profit.

One other very interesting feature is that Locust have announced that the service is now free until the end of March, so if you are not already a member and want to find out why we want to save it send a text message to 07973 410933 and in the message put just the text DLP
Wednesday, February 05, 2003
We don't want your war
Jynkz (via Adam Curry) tells the tale in sound and vision.

Tony? Dubya? Are you starting to listen yet?
I added the meta-tags for GeoURL and GeoTags the other day, fascinating stuff.

You can even see a list of nearby sites. It's funny that so many of them claim to be in Guildford or elsewhere in Surrey though, rather than their real positions in the middle of a Kentish field. Hint to my "Neighbours", if you're West of the Greenwich meridian, you should have a negative longtitude value. That doesn't explain this chap who claims to be from Brisbane in Australia but gives his position as somewhere in the middle of the Thames Estuary...

My neighbours list is also available as an RSS 0.91 or 1.0 feed too.
Old tech
Regia Anglorum are a society attempting to recreate a cross section of English life around the turn of the first millennium, AD950 to 1066 - key dates for any English historian. One of their projects is to reconstruct a fortified Anglo-Saxon manor house. The site has been named Wychurst and although it did not exist 1000 years ago locally, is a typical name for such a settlement in the Weald of Kent.

The coolist bit is this is almost on my doorstep, it's definitely something to visit when the weather picks up a little.

HWÆT WE GARDE - na in geardagum þeodcyninga...
Tuesday, February 04, 2003
Minor blog redesign
It must be spring cleaning time, Russ has done it, Moof has done it (very vividly...), and now my blog has changed around a little.

Nothing too drastic yet, but the old design was looking rather last century, the next step is to get shot of the tables, use some proper font sizings (points rather than pixels), and to embrace XHTML.