August 2003 Archives

August 31, 2003

TiVo troubles: a word to interaction designers about having a "Happy GUI"

Today my TiVo started needing a re-boot literally every 4 minutes to prevent the whole system locking up. Eventually I have had to unhook it from my tv set-up and leave it to one side to deal with another day. So, how well do you think I warmed to the happy TiVo cartoon character accompanied by cheese-synth-light-entertainment music in the wacky opening animation that appears every time you restart the machine? GUI/interaction designers take note: if you are thinking...
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August 29, 2003

Would the Tories close the BBC website?

Mediaguardian reported on Tuesday that "Tories would close BBC website", quoting culture spokesman John Whittingdale. According to this article - Tory questions BBC digital role - from the BBC itself, he seems to feel perhaps the emphasis of that headline was wrong when you look at what he actually said: In response to earlier reports, Mr Whittingdale insisted he was "not saying the BBC website should be closed down, but needs to be examined against criteria in exactly the...
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August 26, 2003

Free access to the BBC's archive, or sale to the highest bidder?

The difference between the attitude of the publicly funded BBC and the commercial media in the UK was made starkly clear this weekend at the Edinburgh International Television conference as Greg Dyke and Tony Ball squared up to each other in an ideological boxing match. In the blue corner, delivering the 2003 James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture, BSkyB chief executive Tony Ball outlined his proposal of a future for the BBC where genre based quotas for each channel are set...
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August 25, 2003

Peter Van Dijck on search query analysis, best bets and controlled vocabularies

Peter Van Dijck has written a good summary article "Better Search Engine Design: Beyond Algorithms" for with some handy MySQL chunks explaining how to make a query analysis tool, and it also touches on the introduction of 'best bets' into search results pages....
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Roaming web-based RSS aggregation from Bloglines

I think I may have found my solution to RSS aggregation. I have tried a couple of software solutions, but none have done the trick for me. This is not least because I work across a variety of physical machines and networks. I have a PC at home. I have had, until the other week, a PC at work. And I have a laptop which I use at work connected to the LAN. Or at home connected to the...
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August 24, 2003

Football, unencrypted satellite broadcast, and bloody huge on-screen graphics

When the BBC announced it was going to broadcast unencrypted on the Astra 2D satellite it opened up several cans of worms. One of the most difficult was the fact the BBC's deal with the Scottish Premier League only allowed the BBC to broadcast live matches in Scotland, not across the whole of the UK. The only viable broadcast solution without encryption was to transmit the games on analogue only. This would be fine of course, unless there were...
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August 14, 2003

Smartcards, standards, e-Government vs e-anything that doesn't work

Today The Guardian reported that the Government's e-Envoy office has been looking into the issue's surrounding the provision of 'smart cards' to deliver government services, and has found four obstacles to their widespread adoption. Of which two were the lack of open standards and data protection. The solution is to "standardise technology" by getting cards to adhere to an e-Gif standard [e-Governemnt interoperability framework]. Michael Cross expects the proposal to get a "roasting from the usual suspects". And he...
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August 13, 2003

The English media's A-Level summer ritual

I should have put it in my diary, but I forgot that tonight is the last night before the A-Level media frenzy. Although individual grades won't arrive until the post tomorrow, the overall figures are delivered at midnight, just in time for tomorrow's newspapers and the breakfast shows of 24 hour news outlets. What a considerate media friendly government we have. And my predictions: If the pass rate has gone up it will be evidence of the dumbing down...
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August 7, 2003

Nostalgia for Saturday night television

You may know I've rarely had a good word to say about the Evening Standard - except their championing of the Trees for London scheme - but yesterday Peter Bazalgette [Endemol/Channel 4] guested for Andrew Neil in their media column. His main article was "Why we're turning off Saturday tv" "There is no longer a mass market of viewers all prepared to do the same thing. We have more disposable wealth than ever before and we know what we...
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Google News Alerts Email Beta

Paranoidfish pointed me to this new Google Beta feature, Google News Alerts. It put a couple of big questions in my mind Firstly, why not eventually do it for web search results? Or Google Groups postings? One of the earliest bits of outward looking Perl scripting I did was to scrape the search results for a Google Groups search for 'BBCi Search' and 'BBC search engine' to pick out the community reaction once we launched. If Google took that...
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August 4, 2003

Registering Creative Commons content at "Common Content"

Common Content looks to be the start of an excellent DMOZ style project to collect together a directory of content that has been made available on the web with a Creative Commons Licence. I've added my articles into the Text : Reference section. The registration is painless and the adding content process is very simple. I've got two suggestions though. Once you've been through the 'adding an item' process once, then a quick add option similar to the one...
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August 3, 2003

How not to spam search engines

There has been a lot of fluff and bluster about how Andi Peters being appointed Executive Editor - Popular Music at the BBC meant that the national institution Top of the Pops was going to be either moved to BBC Three, radically revamped or cancelled altogether. The Sun newspaper was even moved this week to have their page 3 girl say as part of her blurb that they should keep it, and published an article headlined "Chop of the...
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More evidence that search engines, well one in particular, are becoming cultural icons for our age - British comedian Dave Gorman has a new stage show based on his Googlewhack adventures, another one of his "docucomedy" projects....
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August 1, 2003

Hacking, all you need is Google - and for people to be stupid

I couldn't help but notice over someone's shoulder yesterday morning that Metro, the free newspaper distributed on London's Underground trains had a story along the lines of "Hacking, all you need is Google" It was a re-write of this New Scientist article - Hackers turn to Google to find weakest links - by Celeste Biever. Now the Metro article even went a little way into explaining how search engines spider, but then went on to say that the problem...
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