Archive for January, 2006

Life on my Mars

Blimey, Noel Edmonds back in the limelight… Barrymore looking for a return vehicle (hosting a celebrity synchronised swimming show was one suggestion I heard) British secret agents busted in Moscow, and a personal ‘blast from the past’… suddenly it was like my own 80s stylee Life on Mars, The more things change eh…

Talking of backward looking stagnation what a thoroughly bland and lack lustre collection of entries for the Culture Show’s design quest. The mini, the red phone box, the tube map.. yawn.

Mr Goss has highlighted my choice of image for ‘Ned’s little problem’ promo. Perhaps Dan O’Connor needs to get himself a better publicist as all the press photo’s of him that we could get hold of show him in the buff.

The Sweet / Meat game.

During a lunchtime Walk around the Exercise Yard with RK…

RK: I need to go to Tesco’s
Me: What for?
RK: Mints
Me: Mince?
RK: Yeah, mints.
Me: What are you making?
RK: (confused look) just.. mints
Me: Just mince? No sauce?
RK: Erm, no
Me: Urgh.

We walked in the store and I veered right to the fresh meat isle, while she veered left to the sweet isle.

Thus was born the game of ‘Sweet or Meat?’ One person says either “mints” or “mince” and the other person has to guess which one was said.

This is how we pass the winter lunchtimes here at White City.

BBC NEWS | Whale spotted in central London

Link: BBC NEWS | England | London | Whale spotted in central London.

How mad is that! I had a meeting this morning with the news team and a user had email in a photo of the whale taken from one of the bridges at around 9 this morning… At lunchtime we’d scrambled the BBC chopper! And the embankment and bridges were packed with spectators.

FACT: If the whale should die. It’s up to Admiral the Lord Boyce GCB OBE (more likely is office) to arrange for a tooth to be extracted and sent to the Natural History Museum, and a proper burial to be made, and according to this that post was held by the Queen mum!

I read somewhere that all beached whales were owned by the Crown, but more often that not the Sovereign claimed only the tongue (the tastiest bit) and gave the carcass to the local community who would have eaten it… yum.

Anyway, we’ve just knocked up a homepage picture promo asking users to send in some more pics.

UPDATE: The King as Honorary Grand Harpooneer, gets the head, the Queen gets the tail, according to Moby Dick.

BBC News & Sport Festival 2006

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So today is the last day of the BBC News and Sport Festival.

Yesterday I attended ‘Are we all reporters now?’ which looked at the role of citizen journalism and user generated content. The only real outcome was that journalists thought citizens couldn’t be journalists, and that now one really liked the phrase User Generated Content. Parts of the BBC, mainly Newsnight, and the interactive team, really get UCG, other parts of the organisation arn’t as up to speed on how and indeed why to use it.

The second thing I went to yesteday was JOhn Simpson interviewing Jack Straw. Here’s what Ariel (the BBC’s internal newspaper) had to say on the exchange

Jack Straw said that he hoped the ‘fractured relationship’ between the BBC and the government was improving, although he admitted there were still ‘high levels of suspicion on both sides’. John Simpson introduced the Foreign Secretary at the News Festival yesterday as someone who ‘has been a good friend to the BBC over the years’ but quipped that the minister was ‘among friends, but not entirely’.

Straw also suggested that the biggest mistake the BBC ever made was deciding to move political news from BH to TVC – a ‘monumental error’ which had led to politicians becoming more detached from broadcasters. ‘I used to go to Broadcasting House for Today – I can count on the fingers on one hand the number of times I’ve been here. ‘It’s dead easy to get here and impossible to get back’, he said.

And that’s with the luxury of a state owned jag! He should try it on the Central line.

This morning kicked off with News Interactive Editor and all round nice guy Pete Clifton giving his thoughts on blogs/wiki’s/podcasts/wotsit’s. He talked us through some of the new features and services news are planning to offer in the coming months, as well as explaining to some of the less tech savvy folk in the room what things like RSS are.

The second panel talk I went to this after lunch was ‘Gloating American Haters?’ which saw Matt Frei (who reminded my a lot of Orson Wells), Beth Poisson (newly appointed to US Embassy here in the UK, not quite CJ Craig) and Charles Glass all giving their thinking on does the BBC have an anti-American, or more specifically, anti-Bush stance? Topics we touched upon were Hurricane Katrina coverage, religion, the Iraq war, race, and how the US media reports the UK (very badly it seems).

Finally I’ve just finished watching Sven Goran Eriksson in conversation with John Motson, very interesting, but we’re not allowed to comment on what he said.

Virgin and the four play plus super deal of the future

I spent an evening last week with some folk who I used to work with at Talk turned to the proposed four-play super deal currently currently being touted by Richard Branson and if/could/should Virgin and NTL merge. Even when I was at Virgin back in 2000 NTL were always in and out. They bought the internet side of things soon after I seem to remember.

According to this
The new company would have:
– 2.5m broadband internet customers, the largest in the UK
– 3.2m TV customers, the second largest in the UK
– 4.3m fixed-line telephony accounts, the second largest in the UK
– 5m mobile phone customers
– Revenues in excess of £4bn.

That’s not bad.

So far, so mega corp to rival Sky right? However where I think it’ll either crash or glide is just how well the different services are connected, and if it plugs into all the other Virgin brands and services. Lots of companies offer three things, (e.g. Homechoice), few can offer four plus entertainment, travel, finance and space flight. Un-used minutes on your mobile? Convert them to Virgin train miles. Plane delays? Instant free texts to your virgin mobile. Messages sent to your TV from the seat of your plane. Anything’s possible I guess. It could work in a similar way to Nectar points. At The rate things are going in ten years time I’ll be buying books from London Energy and getting my electricity from Amazon.

I met Richard Branson once, in fact I filmed him for an e-card singing Christmas Carols (music isn’t his strong point! I’ve still got a copy somewhere). Anyway, he seemed like a nice guy who was into cool stuff and up for a laugh. As last week’s Horizon (Space Tourists) showed, with him talking about Virgin Galactic. It was quite a sad programme in some ways, particularly Colin Pillinger lookalike Burt Rutan, the designer of Spaceship One. He ended the show with, “If I’d had the the courage to do this in the 70s, affordable spaceflight would be here now”. Damn you Burt! You’re the reason I’m not writing this on the flippin’ Moon! Anyway once Galactic’s up and running, Branson could be the Willy Wonka for the 21st Century and offer a lucky ticket to any premium Virgin super package subscriber, the sort of people who fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class would be up for a space ride I think. Think of the media frenzy.

BBC London – Could you live without using a supermarket for a month?

Link: Could you live without using a supermarket for a month?.Well the good people of Crystal Palace have been without a supermarket since November 2005. The local gossip on finding a replacement for Morrisons is between Asda and Waitrose. God I hope it’s Waitrose.. their food is fantastic, they’re pretty good at getting decent suppliers and stuff, and it’d put a few bob on my flat!

The ballad of Airport Express and the HP printer.

There’s not much need for printing at eyedropper towers, but over Christmas we not only needed to print out some routes via google maps, but afterward I wrote a dozen thank you letters with pen and paper and my hand ended up looking like Jeremy Beadles! We also took a load of pictures that we wanted to send to olds not online.

So with this in mind I hit the sales looking for a cheapo printer. We plumped for the HP 3940 as it was under £50 and more importantly had the smallest foot print. My cunning plan was to hook it up to the house Airport Express, this wasn’t to be however. Plugged it in.. It can see it, but can’t install the drivers correctly. Annoying it works fine when plugged straight into the USB port.

After much googling I found a host of links with recommended Linux drivers and all sorts of stuff including this, and this. Crikey, consoles, root users, compile PPD… what a pain in the arse. For the amount of printing I do, it’s just easier to plug the damn thing in.

The moral of the story, check your printer will work with Airport Express before buying it.

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
January 2006