August 2005 Archives

August 31, 2005

User-Generated Content From In The Press And In The News

Today I was pleased to see two different examples of user-generated content from the BBC website being reported. In her G2 column Radio 3 presenter Penny Gore talked about the problems of skipping CDs, and mentioned that: Particular discs will offend the sensibilities of our normally trusty CD players for no fathomable reason, leading to awkward moments for the presenter. On occasion a cluster of mysterious glitches, skips, and outright fallings-off-air, leading to dark speculation on the Radio 3 messageboard...
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Michael Sheard: 1940 - 2005

Sad news today for me and other Doctor Who fans, as Michael Sheard has passed away, aged 65. He was mostly known for terrorising my generation on children's TV as the deputy headmaster of BBC school soap Grange Hill. He also played a part in the Star Wars universe, as Admiral Kendal Ozzel in the best of the movies, Episode V. He was a regular on Doctor Who though, appearing in 6 stories playing against five different Doctor Who actors....
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No Becks Please - We're The Daily Mail

You have to love the Daily Mail. On page 15 today Simon Heffer wrote a new set of rights to "redress the balance" of human rights legislation. After a litany of the usual suspects - "the right to hear non-regional accents on Radio 4 occasionally", "the right of the public to know where their Prime Minister is going on holiday", and "the right to restrict entry to our country". He finishes with: The right not to have to read about...
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August 30, 2005

Official BBC Complaints RSS Feed

A while back the BBC held an internal competition as part of the run-up to the launch of - I entered a script that scraped the BBC's Complaints site and converted the published responses into an RSS feed. I was partly motivated by the fact that it would be useful for my work (to monitor how the complaints site was being used as it was first launched), and partly motivated by frustration that I had neglected to get RSS...
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August 29, 2005

Ghosts by Gaslight - A Big Bus Company Ghost Walk (and Pub Crawl)

A couple of weeks back my wife and I took one of the open-topped bus tours around London run by The Big Bus Company. As part of your ticket a few walks around the centre of town are thrown in. One of them is a ghost walk, so naturally we took them up on the offer. 'Ghosts by Gaslight' promises to be a pub crawl filled with grisly tales of London hauntings. It starts quite slowly, the first stop-off being...
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Big Bus Tour - How Tourists Get To See London

My wife and I are working through a lengthy list of tourist things we've always wanted to do in the UK but never quite got round to - I suppose we should have posted it to 43 Things. Anyway one of them was to spend a day touring London in an open-topped bus. We've done this ultra-naff thing as genuine tourists in Dublin and York before, with varying degrees of success (the Dublin bus kept us dry, the York bus...
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Create Varied Stuff Online With The BBC

The BBC currently has up a pilot page at It lists areas of the BBC's online offering where users can make and do stuff on the web, categorised into Sound and Vision, Writing, and Parents & Children. The activities range from making music in the Radio One studio, to being a Neighbourhood Gardener, to blogging in the Western Highlands & Islands. Mind you, I'm still not sure that the average user will understand what a 'pilot' page is -...
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August 24, 2005

Greatest Painting Vote Update

The short-list component of the Today programme's Greatest Painting in Britain vote is just over a week old now. It has certainly been the most successful vote my team have been involved with - it has already attracted just about twice as many online votes as our previous record, with nearly two weeks left to run. It has also continued to generate lots of press and lots of blogosphere hot air. Last week The Guardian's G2 devoted the front page...
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Testing! Testing! Putting The BBC Homepage Through Emergency Procedures

If you were up surfing the web around midnight last night, and visited the BBC homepage, like the proverbial visitor going down to the woods, you were in for a bit of surprise, as we were testing our new Breaking News, Breaking Sport and 'Lite' procedures. There are some systems that you can do as much testing in development as you like, but you'll never feel 100% confident in the system until you've seen it used on the live site....
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Searching For Google Talk

With Google diversifying into IM/IP Telephony, and Yahoo! being described as a messy media megacorp, I was interested to see how their core services - search - coped with today's launch of Google Talk. There has been a lot of focus recently on their relative index sizes, and at the moment Yahoo! has a slight edge reported in the relevancy stakes. My experiment today looked more at freshness. At 5pm today search for "Google Talk" on Google yielded no links...
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K9 is Back!

Absolutely my favourite robot when I was a child was Doctor Who's faithful dog, the puntastic K9. And today the BBC confirmed his much rumoured return for the forthcoming second season of the revived show. In an episode with Sarah Jane-Smith. Which also features Anthony Head. I think all my Christmasses have come at once. Actually, he secretly made a return within the corporation the last time that the BBC's intranet homepage was redesigned, where he happily sits atop the...
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August 23, 2005

Doctor Who On Your Mobile

Today BBC Worldwide announced that they had put in place a licence for some programmes to be available on the ROK Player format for phones. "BBC Worldwide is always looking for new opportunities, both in the UK and abroad, that allow consumers to enjoy their favourite TV content again and again, while delivering additional revenues to the BBC and to the talent behind the classic programming. The ROK Player meets these demands, delivering high quality full-length episodes to mobile phones...
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August 22, 2005

Things Our Neighbours Have Thrown Into Our Garden

Our house used to be pretty quiet when we first moved in. On one side was a young family with a polite chatty 3 year-old, and on the other side an old lady who only bothered us if she thought our drain was overflowing into her garden, or if she we thought we were cooking "that indian food" because she used oxygen and "that indian food" affected her breathing. When she died a year-and-a-half ago she was replaced by our...
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Dinosaur Fun at the Natural History Museum

Now I may be a grown-up, but a bit of me is still at heart a kid in awe of dinosaurs. A couple of weeks back I spent a while at the Natural History Museum, where the dinosaur fossils are still the main attraction. A group of us went, including a two year old and a four year old, so in truth we spent more time running around on the grass outside playing frisbee than improving our collective scientific knowledge,...
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August 20, 2005

The Bike Shed at Walthamstow Central

So I think I've given up on my ambition to be cycling to work by the start of September - it is 22km each way, and apart from the physical issue of whether I can do it or not, I can't work out when I would either get to write currybetdotnet or drink beer. Plus there is the issue of whether I would actually have the energy left to do any work after a 22k cycle first thing in the...
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August 16, 2005

The Today Programme's Greatest Painting In Britain Vote

Yesterday alongside the BBC's Radio 4 web team, my team launched the online component of the vote for The Greatest Painting in Britain, which is being held by the Today programme in conjunction with The National Gallery. The open nomination period has passed, and now it is a case of voting for one of the ten paintings on the shortlist, all of which are on public display in the UK, if not by British artists. The result will be announced...
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Zero Marks For Littlejohn's Research

I'm well aware that rising to the bait in a column by Richard Littlejohn belittles me more than it will disturb him, but I find myself unable to bite my lip today. In today's The Sun Littlejohn wrote: I went to Hiroshima 20 years ago and couldn't help being moved by the memorial. But although I hoped it wouldn't happen again, I never thought for a moment that dropping the big one was wrong. As one American commentator put it:...
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Extras Escapes From The Office Onto The Internet

Today the BBC noticed that a second of the corporation's flagship television shows had leaked onto the internet pre-transmission. Following Doctor Who's season opener this week's scheduled episode of the Ricky Gervais show Extras has been found online. Ironically today's issue of the BBC's in-house newspaper Ariel (affectionately known as Pravda to the old-timers) carried a column by Ian Betteridge about UKNova, explaining the concept of torrents. He makes a point about peer-to-peer systems: to what extent do they exist...
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August 15, 2005

The BBC, Jamie Kane and Wikipedia

As one of the people involved with the BBC's Points of View messageboard I'm always fascinated by the way the BBC interacts with community sites, and over the weekend a story has developed which has been almost as intriguing as the game it has been about. In a classic case of Wiki retribution, the entry on Wikipedia about Jamie Kane, from the BBC's interactive game of the same name, (at the time of writing I hasten to add) now contains...
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The Observer Making Prominent Use Of The BBC's Messageboards

I wrote the other week following the BBC Three DOG debacle about the risks to a broadcaster of having their own critical user-generated content quoted back at them. In The Observer this weekend Anthony Holden took it a whole stage further in his article 'Log on, lash out', in which he reviewed Proms 33, 34 & 36 almost entirely through the idiom of quoting users of the BBC's Proms messageboard. Like most messageboard contributers they were not shy in coming...
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August 14, 2005

Massive European News - Leek County Old School Boy's Club 2 - 5 FC Disgruntled of Manchester

Now I know the whole media circus surrounding the Manchester Dolphins Glazerdrome Soccerball team is very attractive in terms of getting eyeballs on websites and newspaper pages, but I was pretty surprised to see that in the early hours of this morning the top story in Europe according to the BBC News homepage was the result of a match in Division Two of the North West Counties League....
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August 11, 2005

Unusual Stuff On The Central Line

I'm glad someone else has noticed this. Going Underground has posted today about some odd graffiti appearing on the door of a Central Line train - "NOISY DOORS ARE UNACCEPTABLE" It is one of a series - back in early July I posted to Flickr another example - "DOORS CAUSE DEAFNESS" I haven't managed to capture it on camera yet, but I believe there is a third one out there. I did, however, manage to capture on camera - however...
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August 10, 2005

The DOG Filth & The Fury

Last week BBC Three changed the DOG on the channel, changed it again following complaints (one poster on POV wrote " Stuart Murphy - I hate you more than words can say. You are the lowest form of human life because of this. I even rate you lower than those scumbags who did what they did in London on July 7th"). The BBC Three website then issued a tongue-in-cheek news story about the DOG issue. Which didn't go down very...
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O's Top Of The League Ladder

OK, so I know it is early doors, and back in the good old days they didn't even bother drawing up a league table for you to replicate with your Shoot! Magazine League Ladders until a more substantial number of matches had been played, but four days into the new season, and my local team Leyton Orient are top of League Two. They'll be staying there at least until the weekend, as none of the teams playing their game in...
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Naked Pilgrim on Five

Five are currently repeating "The Naked Pilgrim: The Road to Santiago" on Tuesday evenings. Yesterday was episode two, with four more to come. It is a documentary of Brian Sewell's pilgrimage to Spain last year, and although I've only seen a couple of the episodes, it is an astonishing piece of television which I urge you to catch. I've long been of the view that both Brian Sewell and Tom Baker should be followed by camera crews 24/7 in their...
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August 9, 2005

No More Newspaper Front Pages On The BBC

And so another useful feature of the BBC website bites the dust. This morning's BBC News review of the papers was not accompanied by the usual pop-up box of scans of the front pages from the major newspapers in the UK. Plus The Morning Star. An explanation was given on the Newswatch site - "Hold the front page, website told" The BBC News website has dropped its look at the day's front pages of the national newspapers because of fears...
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May Discovery Continue

And so the shuttle came safely home today. The coverage on the BBC over the last couple of days hasn't met with universal approval: "Discovery Returns ... " ... is the title of this morning's coverage in a "BBC1 'Breakfast' Special" of the return to earth of the space shuttle ... A mistitle if ever there was one ... Over the years, the take off and return of the shuttle has generally received news coverage no more informative than "The...
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August 1, 2005

Haunted Belgravia and Chelsea

I've mentioned before that at Christmas I bought my wife a book called "Walking Haunted London" by Richard Jones (who kindly posted a comment on one of my ghost walk commentaries), hoping we could learn more about London, and maybe capture a spooky experience at the same time. It also turns out that most of the haunted locations in London seem to be pubs, so it is quite a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon. This weekend we did...
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Forza Nerazzurri!

Internazionale have been in the news in the UK over the last week with the off-on nature of their tour - initially cancelled after the bombings in London. I've supported the Milan team from afar ever since Channel 4 first started televising Italian Football in the early 90's, but I've never seen them in the flesh. I was tempted to go to the match at Crystal Palace, but sadly Inter sent a shadow of their first team squad over for...
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