November 2005 Archives

November 30, 2005

RSS and Reader Comments on the Daily Mail site

For a long time I don't think the Daily Mail and Associated New Media were really sure about the strategic direction of the online version of the paper, but recently they've been making what I think are some very interesting moves. Firstly they are really pushing their RSS feeds into the face of the audience, with prominent RSS icons and a very clear help page: There are several ways of receiving RSS feeds, but the technology is moving forwards and...
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The Interim Fiddler

I've written before about how dangerous it is to allow software engineers to name projects without the restraining arm of a product manager, which is how I came to be product owner of a piece of software called the A-Z-o-tron. Having dropped the ball again, this week our naming hit a new low. We've been rolling out onto the servers a bit of software that somehow came to be known as 'the interim fiddler'. It is a nifty...
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November 26, 2005

Haunted Liverpool Street to Mansion House

Last Christmas I bought my wife the book "Walking Haunted London" by Richard Jones. Since then we've been doing a few of the ghost walks in the book, which usually involves stopping in a good few haunted pubs for refreshment, which makes them a very enjoyable pastime in my book. Since we are shortly leaving the country, on Thursday night my wife and I made probably what will be our last ghost walk in London, following the route that Jones...
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There is something wryly amusing about the fact that when I turn up to the first meet-up it will be as an outsider peering in, since it is on the 12th December, after I will have left the BBC. I'm sure I'll have fun anyway. If you are interested in making bits'n'bobs with BBC content, or (like me) are interested in eavesdropping on the clever people who actually make things rather than product manage things, then it is well...
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November 25, 2005

Five Live and George Best on the BBC Homepage

There was a lot of sport coverage on the BBC homepage today, for two very differing reasons. I was very pleased to see Radio Five Live's Greatest Team of All Time vote on the homepage. We know from previous experience with the Five Live Sporting Century and the Today programme's Greatest Painting votes that a homepage promotion is a real driver for people to participate in the vote, much more so than on-air trails. I think on-air trails provide a...
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'Disturbingly psychotic' - Points of View used in the news again

Another set of quotes from the BBC's Points of View message board has been propagating around the interweb in the news reports of the volume of complaints the BBC has been receiving about the recent Digital Television trails that have been showing. This post has come to be seen as containing the defining phrase - 'disturbingly psychotic' I am writing about the new advertisement for digital TV showing severed heads floating in the air and coagulating into one large talking...
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November 24, 2005

The Evening Standard's Vanishing Booze Vote

For a long time one of the things that has really bugged me about living in London is England's archaic licensing laws, that mean that after watching a film on a Sunday night the missus and I can't retire to the pub next door to discuss the finer details of the plot over a pint, in case we are too hung-over to work in the munitions factory the next day. In fact I'd go as far as to say it...
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Five Live's Greatest Team of All Time vote

Like the Sporting Century and Eurostars votes before, my team are running a multi-rating vote for Five Live, the results of which will form a major piece of programming. This year it is Five Live's Greatest Team of All Time, which will be counted down on a special programme on Christmas Eve. The vote consists of three stages. First the users browse through a shortlist of 32 teams from various sports. The teams are listed alphabetically, and each team...
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November 23, 2005

Moving the BBC homepage

We made a change today in the way the BBC homepage is published, which hopefully will have gone totally unnoticed to our audience. When you request the URL you don't get served a page in the root directory of the web-server. Instead a whole series of rewrite and redirect rules analyse the request, and punt you off to if the request comes from a phone, or lands you at a page within the directory where the homepage lives...
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Golden TV Moments vote - Carol Thatcher need not apply

So back to something I do know about, writing about voting on rather than being fooled into thinking fan-sites are some kind of semi-official offshoot. My team have been collating the results for the TV Moments vote. Over the weekend the nominations for the months of November and December became available, as did the chance to vote for the one overall Golden Moment. Sadly Carol Thatcher pissing was too late to feature in the nominations....
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November 19, 2005

The Cybus Corporation on the web

That is the warning you get exploring the navigation of a new website from the Cybus Corporation. I can't believe the stuff on the web for the second series of Doctor Who is appearing so soon, in fact I don't even know how long this has been live. The Cybus Corporation site has a couple of pictures that haven't been available on the official site yet, include a group cyberman shot, and a cyberconversion.    The text has also...
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November 18, 2005

The BBC homepage and Children in Need - a lot can happen in a year

It is a little difficult to convey to people outside the BBC the frenzy of activity that surrounds Children in Need every year. This year in particular my department have been very active, and we have had regular cake sales, a quiz night, people dying their hair, shaving their hair, or having their hair waxed off them for charity. We've also put a lot of effort into covering the event on the BBC homepage. Last year we did a one-off...
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Children in Need and Doctor Who - a lot can happen in 12 years

12 years ago in 1993 was the first time Doctor Who got involved in a Children in Need mini-episode. Eager anticipation of the first new television story for 4 years - "Dimensions in Time" - soon turned to horrified despair as it emerged it would involve the cast of EastEnders, a phone-in vote, and a second instalment broadcast during Noel's House Party the following day. Even two years ago Doctor Who on Children in Need meant a spoof, as the...
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November 15, 2005

Blair is right to sick by his principles

This just in from the amusing online typo department - "Blair is right to sick by his principles."...
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November 14, 2005

"Shame on you, BBC. Shame on you, Tony Blair"

"Shame on you, BBC. Shame on you, Tony Blair" was the song on the lips of a group of protesters outside BBC Television Centre. When I worked at Bush House it was quite usual to see protests in the area, very often outside the Indian High Commission, but at Television Centre the protests tend to be more likely to involve BBC staff than the public. In fact I can't remember myself seeing another demonstration outside TVC, although I know they...
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Israeli-Palestinian Impartiality Review by the BBC Governors - Public Consultation

The BBC Governors are currently carrying out a public consultation into the impartiality of the BBC's coverage of issues involving Israel and Palestine. It is one of the most sensitive areas of BBC coverage, and one which generates a legion of comments hostile to BBC coverage from both sides of the conflict on our message boards and via our complaints process. The review by the Governors has some very interesting terms of reference, and will be looking at a years...
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November 13, 2005

Moving Servers...

This is the obligatory test post to see if I have correctly installed Movable Type 3.2 on the new currybetdotnet server. It seems to have gone relatively smoothly, the only problems I had were in second-guessing how mySQL was set-up, and then mistyping some paths in my config file. Next step was to migrate the content in - which didn't look like it was going to be as easy as I hoped, but it turned out it was. My biggest...
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November 8, 2005

Voting frenzy on

Well it must be coming up to Christmas, as we are beginning to see the end of year frenzy to rate events, give awards, and generally reflect on the previous 12 months. Currently on my team are managing the collating the results on three very different votes, all of which are what we call 'TX critical', meaning that the result will shape or impact upon broadcast programming. First up is the annual vote on the BBC Scotland Celtic Roots...
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Γεια σας - I'm Leaving The BBC

I'm pleased to be able to finally write on currybetdotnet that I will be leaving the BBC at the beginning of next month. Although quite a lot of people already know my plans, and went to our 'going away party' last month, it was only yesterday that I resigned from my job and made it all official. My wife and I are both taking a break from working. We'll be spending Christmas with her family in Qatar, and then in...
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November 7, 2005

I've Moved Desks

I'm back in the office today for the first day in my new desk, my 11th desk in 5 different buildings during 5 years at the BBC. I have to say that of all of them, this one has without doubt the best view. As I sit at my desk I can see from the new Wembley Stadium in the west of town, to the BT Tower in Central London....
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November 4, 2005

The English-Speaking Panel at IBERSID 2005 in Zaragoza

I've been lucky enough this week to be in Zaragoza speaking at the University there, which has been hosting IBERSID 2005. First off I must credit the patience / endurance of the audience, who listened to nearly two hours of talks on quite technical subjects, in a tongue other than their own, and secondly thank the organiser, Prof. Francisco Javier García Marco, who was so courteous and made us feel so welcome. I formed part of a four person session...
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November 1, 2005

"Excessive Door Noise" on the Central Line

I wrote back in August about the scratchings on the doors of a couple of Central Line trains - NOISY DOORS ARE UNACCEPTABLE and DOORS CAUSE DEAFNESS. At the time I said I thought there was a third example out there, but only today on the way to work did I finally capture it on camera - "EXCESSIVE DOOR NOISE"...
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Red Bee Media at the Broadcast Centre

I got my first email today from Red Bee Media, or BBC Broadcast as they used to be known. It took a long time to get used to referring to BBC Technology as Siemens, so we'll see how long 'BBCBeee' continues to be the four-letter-acronym of choice to describe them at work. Red Bee Media announced their new branding at an event within my building the other week, when our open plan office was suddenly blasted by The Killers from...
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