Archive for December, 2005

Interesting BBC fact #174

Question: Who owns the copyright to the ‘pips’, played to signify the hour on BBC Radio?
Answer: The Astronomer Royal owns the copyright.

From the BBC daily brief.

Amsterdam, the band & Rose Royce, not the car

Amsterdam - The Borderline - 4
Amsterdam – The Borderline – 4,
originally uploaded by

If Bruce Springsteen had grown up in the shadow of the Liver building and the M53 and not a New Jersey turnpike then I reckon he’d have turned out rather like Ian Prowse, front man for the ‘best band you’ve never heard of’ Amsterdam who I saw last night at The Borderline.

Prowse handles his Fender Telecaster with the same gutsy determination, but Amsterdam are proper scousers; from not doing interviews with The Sun, to keeping it in the family ala Bread as Ian’s cousin was acting guitar tech, and was constantly ribbed by him about his guitar tuning ability and lack of pay.

I got into Amsterdam after the Radio 1 John Peel tribute gig at Madia Vale, where Shelia said “This is the one he would have wanted me to play” when introducing ‘does this train stop at Merseyside?’. I remember it well as the whole room went silent to those ghostly opening notes… except Richard from Belle and Sebastian who’d just told me the punch line to the joke he was telling.

I’d forgotten how much fun seeing a band at The Boarderline can be. Bands get lights of members of the front row, friends and family all turn up – I’m sure I was stood next to the keyboard players mum; it’s much more intimate that somewhere like the Academy or Astoria.

Anyway, they’ve a new album out, the Journey, buy it. I did, and got it signed.

And if that wasn’t enough the night before in complete oppostite to them I saw Rose Royce play to The Bank’s Christmas party, also there was Samuel L Jackson, as he walked past I said hello in a manically bit pissed way, and he replied with a long slow “Hiiii….” so now I’ve met my second Jedi (Ewan McGregor being the other one).

Anyway, more shitty low res cameraphone pics on Flickr, God I’m really missing my little cybershot… New camera for Christmas me thinks…

backstage and homeless…

Yesterday, after a particularly difficult day at work, (I don’t want to hear the words ‘Doctor’ or ‘Who’ for a while) I did my first session of volunteering in a homeless hostel run by St Mungos, after this I went to the Backstage get together run by the blogosphere’s newest superhero, Ben Metcalfe, which Lee described as ‘speed dating for geeks’. If so, all the lookers had paired off by the time I got there.. so I ended up with the ol’ familiar face of Jem Stone.

TheSt Mungo’s hostel on Southampton Row houses clients that have had to be moved their from other shelters for a variety of reasons such as serious problems with substance abuse or inappropriate conduct. It was challenging experience, as when I first arrived one resident was being attended to by the staff and the police as she was being disruptive, but I think they managed to calm her down and get her back safely to her room.

I had a brief induction and met the other two volunteers, then went upstairs to the common room. After introducing myself to the four or so people in the room, I played a game of pool with a quiet old Irish man named John, he thrashed me 2-0, and did a bit of a fiendish jigsaw with another client… In all it was an exposure to people most of us never see, or if we do we pass it by. I’m hoping the the new year to start some photography workshops, as the centre has two digital camera’s and some old PCs. In all it made a real refreshing but challenging change from the world of internetery too… So if you’re feeling charitable readers, why not donate to St Mungo’s or give volunteering a try…

BBC home Archive beta

Yay, the official BBC homepage archive launched today, and check us being all web2.0 and down with the kids, we’ve even got a little beta sign.. wow, times have changed, and this in the same week my mum did her first blog post on the blogger account I set up for her community centre… blimey

As ever, indeed perhaps for the final time, Martin offers up his thoughts from an operational perspective in what could be his ‘last post’ as today was his final day at the BBC. At the going down of the servers, and at the rising of the feedback, we will remember him.

Anyway, this archive thing is great, but when we move out of beta and into… um, gamma, I’d like to see it fully integrated into the homepage proper. One idea we’ve talked about for ages is a shuffler, or nudger, like on a fruit machine. It’d be a sort of, ‘naah, don’t like that, show me something else’ type affair. Other thoughts are a daily scrape of all the sub pages promotions. Or taking a chunk of the Popular and New section and having a ‘what other people are doing’ style thing… So can someone build any of these for us please?

David Data

Brings a new meaing to “You’ve got the Con…”David_data

Flash on the homepage, Doctor Who Exclusives, and street crime…what a day

A mini mile stone has been reached in my BBC career this week…

yes, after three years and two redesigns we’ve finally got some flash on the homepage. This was talked about waaaaaaay back in 2002 by me, the hit man and her. Look, here’s some dev work to prove it, shark.swf & liar.swf. In a way, a lot of why we’d want Flash has been taken up by the rotorvator, and everyone loves that.

As usual, Martin’s got all the details, God I’m going to have to write properly about what actually goes on behind the homepage when he goes…

Anyway, a lot of the point are valid, however I feel if we’d have done something really ‘FLASHY’ we’d have set a high expectation… and the fact that the record co. only gave Radio1 and me TWO images! You can’t really do much with two images really. ‘sides we’re saving going really flashy for something ‘special’.

My favourite reply was one that said something like “when the images for this current homepage started they were crisp, now they’re all crap and jpeggy’ or something… sigh, everyone’s a critic.

Well, balls to flash, because today I was working with that ol’ pre Millennium favourite, the animated gif.. woo-hoo. We did a sneaky ‘doctor who exclusive’ in the homepage banner.. see here.

Well after about 20 mins, the Outpost Gallifrey message boards were aflame with rumour my fave being “bet they’re launching an advent calendar” – yeah because that would be a good thing to launch on the 2nd of December. heh-heh. So what is coming tomorrow? Check back at 12ish tomorrow…. Also the article about what we did for the series one finale went live today on The Cutting Archive, have a read.

Also according to the daily brief, complaints for my marketing and promotions colleagues ‘heads’ trail have topped 800, with licence fee payers seemingly trying to out do each other in shocked reaction, we’ve had ‘violently sick’ ”Absolutely horrible’ and ‘made me kill my family’.. actually that last one’s not true. Mind you so far in my time at the beeb we’ve had dismembered fingers, ear’s growing on trees, rubber faces that peel off, faces on monkeys and now mini heads…

Anyway, talking of scary things around 10pm tonight I heard a woman screaming outside my house, some guy was mugging her, right there in the street! I ran down and made sure she was all right, then called the police. The guy got away but the police are with her and out looking for him now.

I’m pleased to say that lots of residents came out to see if she was ok and one pizza delivery guy even went a ride round on his motorbike looking for him. Nice to know that. It doesn’t look like he’s violent, but it seems he only attacks women and is scared quite easily, mind you, he’s done it before

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
December 2005