June 2004 Archives

June 30, 2004

New Radio 3 site and a more open BBC all in one

At the end of last week a new Radio 3 website emerged blinking onto the interweb. It has been a while in the pipeline, and like any major change, hasn't received a 100% rapturous welcome from the users. For some reason people are so much more inclined to get the effort together to write "I Hate It" rather than, "Ooooh, nice new site, thank you" ;-) Dan Hill has bravely stuck his head above the parapet and attempted to...
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It's just like the not-so-good old days

One positive offshoot of the apparent chaos currently enveloping London during the RMT strike, is it gives us a chance to remember what travelling across central London at surface level was like before the Congestion Charge was introduced. Bloody awful. It's wall-to-wall cars, and the bus journey from Liverpool Street to The Strand has just taken the best part of 35 minutes (usual post congestion charge time: 15-ish minutes)...
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June 29, 2004

The off switch looms - some of the BBC's Online sites to close

Well it is official - Mark Thompson has just come out in public to say that some of the BBC's online services do not meet our new "Public Value" tests and that we will be announcing closures in the coming weeks. "However, this being a naughty world, some of you may nonetheless find yourselves wondering if this whole public value test isn't really just a fancy new way of rubber-stamping everything that the BBC intends to do anyway. All...
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Which job was it we were doing anyway?

I'm a little bit confused here. If I remember correctly the job we were doing was disarming Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. Tony Blair certainly seemed to think so. "On Tuesday night I gave the order for British forces to take part in military action in Iraq. Tonight British servicemen and women are engaged from air, land and sea. Their mission: to remove Saddam Hussein from power and disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction.         Tony Blair's...
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June 28, 2004

Walthamstow Central Bus Station - accessibility and security

Nearly a year in the making the new Walthamstow Central Bus Station opened just over a week ago - with a celebratory concert that managed to feature Chas'n'Dave. There is still a lot of snagging going on, but, as the third station I've known standing on the site it is without a doubt the best - it is more spacious, better lit, and actually has capacity for the number of buses that park there It is also one that I...
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June 27, 2004

The Beginner's Computer Handbook - Understanding & Programming The Micro

"Microcomputers are small multi-purpose computers. You can play games on them, draw pictures, and sometimes even make sounds and music. They can also do complicated sums very quickly, and you can keep diaries and catalogues of records and slides, or anything else you collect." On Saturday morning my wife and I went to our local church fête, at St John's Church on Chingford Road in Walthamstow, where both my parents and my sister got married. I don't go out...
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June 26, 2004

Nice work if you can get the rest of us to pay for it

One of the most depressing things about the annual revelation of the amount of money spent by taxpayers on the Wettin family is the fatuous comparisons - for example, this time round it is that they cost us two pints of milk. So between the lot of us it's actually the cost of around 117 million pints of milk. This year the report included the astonishing figure that every time the Royal Train is used it costs the taxpayer...
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June 23, 2004

Converting BBC Sport RSS feeds to WML

Please note that this article is from June 2004, and that the bbcrss2wml.pl script is no longer available for download. About five years ago if I got up late and didn't get to see the football news in the morning, I would have to wait until the Evening Standard hit the streets, or try to find a chance to listen to Radio Five Live during working hours in a busy record shop. Once I moved to working in an...
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June 17, 2004


I loved this comment by J King on Simon Willison's Weblog post about theyworkforyou.com: "I question their choice of top-level domain. It shows no evidence of being a commercial site, and the domain doesn't help to identify its geographic target. Considering there is hardly anything in its entry page that conclusively pegs it as related to the UK Parliament specifically, this is pretty poor judgement. I suppose it was a matter of expense? I think it was more to...
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June 15, 2004

My first Walthamstow West Community Council meeting

This evening I attended the Walthamstow West Community Council at Greenleaf Primary School. Turn out was low - the council covers four wards, and out of total of 21, my wife & I were 2 of only four people from our Chapel End ward. Everyone attending the meeting was issued with an IML hand-set, which doubled up as both a microphone and an electronic voting device. This naturally appealed to the democratic geek within, but it was noticeable that...
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TiVo was made for football championships

With matches in the Euro2004 group stages kicking off at 17:00 in the UK I have been taking advantage of the flexibility of our working hours to try and get home to see the games. However, on days like today, when buses and trains let me down and it inexplicably takes me one hour and thirty-eight minutes to cover the 45 minute journey home, TiVo comes to the rescue. Today's match between debutant's Latvia and the Czech Republic kicked...
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Complaint about the 212 bus route in Walthamstow

Below is a complaint I have made today to First Group, who operate the franchise for the 212 bus route in Chingford and Walthamstow. I would like to complain about an incident that took place involving one of your drivers on the 212 route this morning, Tuesday June 15th. The incident happened at the bus stop at the foot of Church Hill in Walthamstow, just after the bus turns right into Church Hill from Shernhall Street. Your driver pulled...
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June 13, 2004

Expose your MP with RSS

They Work For You is offering a whole host of data sources for people to play with. Instructions have already been posted on one way to do it - How To Run a Weblog on Behalf of Your MP. And people are already doing it to Anne Campbell and Nigel Griffiths. Go play......
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June 10, 2004

The reporting of Internet polls during elections

Well, the voting is over - so I can come out of hiding. There is something as yet unresolved about identifiable BBC staff writing about an election camapign. Within the BBC, for the duration of an election campaign we go into "special conditions of operation" mode. This is less exciting than it sounds - but it means that we are extra careful about the user generated content we publish and the opinions expressed on bbc.co.uk pages. At no time...
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English Football League re-brands

The English Football League has decided to rebrand it's competitions. Normally I wouldn't have much interest in this sort of thing, but with Leeds United's unfortunate relegation it has become my main focus for next year. Out goes the old fashion notion of Divisions 1, 2 and 3. In comes "The Championship", "League One" and "League Two". This is the second time in the last twelve years that my local team, Leyton Orient, have managed to leap up a...
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June 8, 2004

I knew it would end in tears...

Today is going to be the transit of Venus, but yesterdays' once in a lifetime landmark was the first judging post of the Dark Blue SEO Challenge - making a competition out of rigging the Google algo. The contestants are bidding to rank number one for a specific search term on both June 7th and July 7th. It is all rather unseemly - of course any SEO worth their salt could win it, but wouldn't want to dirty their...
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June 5, 2004

Tim Henman loses - D-Day coverage saved!

There were astonishing scenes in Bush House today during Tim Henman's losing semi-final performance at Roland Garros in The French Open. Whilst the rest of the country that was interested in tennis may have been supporting "our plucky Tim", within my office a cheer went up when he lost. This may have something to do with the fact that on Friday we bed down exactly what is going to appear on the bbc.co.uk homepage and a lot of ancillary...
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June 2, 2004

Zidane is the Radio Five Live Eurostar

On Monday Radio Five Live unveiled Zinedine Zidane as the winner of the Eurostars vote that I worked on. You can listen again to the programme via the bbc.co.uk Radio Player....
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