February 2007 Archives

February 28, 2007

Google's anti-American stance on spelling the Habsburgs will upset Conservapedia

Yesterday, as he often does, Dave pointed me to something on the web that I enjoved investigating further - the Conservapedia. This is a wiki set up to counter the "clear" anti-Christian and anti-American bias of Wikipedia. Dave's post pretty much deals straight away with the main flaws of the project, and points to a page that they keep, documenting the evidence of the 'bias' in Wikipedia. I was struck very much by one point: Wikipedia often uses foreign...
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February 27, 2007

Now the Daily Mail is twisting MY words about ChildLine

I wrote yesterday about the Daily Mail's initial online reporting of a ChildLine survey into the types of calls they had been receiving from children in 2005/6. I also took the time to post a comment on the Daily Mail's story, making the same point - namely that their reporting had extrapolated a conclusion from the figures that wasn't supported by the evidence. At no point in their report or press release did ChildLine claim that suicidal 5 year olds...
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February 26, 2007

The Daily Mail distorts Childline's report on youth mental health in the UK

It is always sad to see the suffering of someone used in a cheap way to make an eye-catching headline, and there is an absolute classic on the front of the Daily Mail's website today. 'Suicidal five-year-olds calling helpline' The alarming decline in the mental health of Britain's youth was revealed today after it emerged that suicidal children as young as five contacted ChildLine. The Daily Mail story follows the release today of a report on the use of the...
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Why not be accessible Instead - trying to buy Onetwo's new album

Today Onetwo release their debut album "Instead". They are a duo featuring Paul Humphreys formerly of OMD, and Claudia Brücken formerly of icy cool German electronic pop legends Propaganda. I saw them live a couple of years ago, and hopefully a copy of the album is currently winging its way to me, along with a copy of the single released from the album, "Cloud 9", which features Depeche Mode's Martin Gore on it. I ordered the CDs from Onetwo's own...
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February 23, 2007

Investigating the history of witches in Salzburg

Unlike the behemoth of the BBC, I seldom take the opportunity to cross-post to or cross-promote the blogs I contribute to, but I wanted to make an exception this week. Those of you who ever followed the posts on here about the ghost walks that I use to do in London, and in one case in Haunted Malta, with my wife, might be interested in a series of posts she has published this week on 'A lemon tree of our...
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Updating to a new Symantec virus definition file will "help catch the most recent viruses"

I keep getting this odd message on the screen when I boot up my work laptop. At first I thought it might be a bad translation, or a bit of improper localisation, since my loaned Sony Vaio is running the German language version of Windows XP. However, thanks to the logo that appears on the task bar, I've realised it is being caused by the Symantec Security software on the machine, so I'm sure it was originally written in English....
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February 22, 2007

The Sun's sexiest barmaid vote goes a bit tits up

If you are running a high-profile national vote, then it is always vital to get the little details right. Sadly The Sun doesn't seem to be doing too well with one of their online polls today. The Sun is running a quest to find Britain's Sexiest barmaid: BEER we go, lads - it's time for the final of our fantastic Pub Idol contest. We've whittled down the entries to a final eight hopefuls who believe they deserve the title of...
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February 21, 2007

BBC bias - then and now at the ICA

London seems packed with events at the moment that I would love to attend but can't. Tomorrow sees a talking event at the ICA called "Is the BBC institutionally biased?" Ex-BBC journalist Robin Aitken will be there as part of the promotional thrust for his book "Can We Trust the BBC?", whilst batting for the BBC, I presume, will be Peter Horrocks, current head of TV News at Television Centre. Aitken's book has produced some excited comment over at Biased...
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"Has Britain gone to the dogs?" - The Daily Express certainly hopes their readers think so

"Has Britain gone to the dogs?" I ask the question because there are a variety of ways that the British press and news services online try and entice their users into debate. The Mirror's redesign has added links to 'Digg this' and 'del.icio.us' on some of their stories, but their blog content is where they seem to restrict their user comments to. The Sun, meanwhile, has buttons underneath headlines asking readers to "Add comment" or "Join Discussion". The new Times...
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February 20, 2007

Working Together - lessons from the road-pricing petition for eGovernment

Next month sees what could be an interesting one-day event in London called "Working Together 2" - which I would have attended if my next flight into the UK didn't miss it by one day. The conference is looking at ways that the public and private new media sectors can combine together better to deliver value for people in the UK from new media solutions. (Although I see from Dave that the organisers could do with a little new media...
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Debunking the debunking of the BBC's debunking of the 9/11 conspiracy theories

It didn't take long. Less than 24 hours after the BBC had transmitted a documentary examining and mostly dismissing the 9/11 Truth conspiracy theories that have surrounded the terrorist attacks on the USA on September 11th 2001 there was already a website set-up specifically to debunk the programme - Debunking the BBC's 9-11 Conspiracy Files The introduction to the site sets out the aim: On February 18, 2007, the BBC broadcasted an hour-long episode which it claimed would examine and...
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February 19, 2007

Idlewild using Channel 4 footage as an incentive to pre-order digital downloads

A lot of the debate around digital piracy, DRM, rights issues, and the music industry centres around the argument that the old business model is broken, so you need to find a new business model, and I spotted an interesting approach to digital marketing by the band Idlewild last week. Idlewild have a new single released on February 26th, and in advance they are offering a 'four formats for four pounds bundle'. The package includes 2 7" vinyl singles, each...
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BIPA comes out against BBC web advertising

I don't very often end up on the same side as BIPA, the lobbying wing of Britain's big commercial internet media companies, but at the moment I find myself very much in agreement with them. The BBC Trust is this week widely expected to rule on whether the BBC should have adverts on international facing websites, and is also expected to say yes to the idea. I've already had my say about it here on currybetdotnet - 5 reasons why...
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February 18, 2007

eMusic subscription changes = price rise

I've been a big fan of eMusic since I joined the service. It has a lot going for it - 25 free mp3s for trialling the service, and then a range of subscription plans that keep the cost of music low as you buy high quality DRM free digital files. The main criticism levelled against the service is that the catalogue doesn't include tracks from the biggest labels, but since I'm an 80s indie fan at heart, picking up DRM-free...
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February 16, 2007

Buy the so-called "Complete" Depeche Mode iTunes box set? No thanks, Apple

Just before Christmas one of my favourite bands, Depeche Mode, released a digital box-set via iTunes - "The Complete Depeche Mode". Even in an industry not known for always putting the customer first, the audacity of the release is breath-taking. Costing £139.99, the set features 644 downloads, of which 59 are exclusive to the box-set. And of course, the tracks that are 'exclusive' to the set are also exclusively available using Apple's proprietary DRM format. The exclusive content, which consists...
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February 15, 2007

The BBC and the 9/11 conpiracy theories

Over the weekend the BBC are transmitting one of an occasional series looking into "conspiracy theories". One episode, concerning the favourite topic of the Daily Express, the death of Diana, was transmitted last year. Future episodes will look at the death of Dr David Kelly (a death with far-reaching consequences for the corporation itself) and the Oklahoma bombing. To promote the start of the season back in December , they even had a quiz online designed to show how much...
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Thoughts on being locked out of my iPod's content by Apple's DRM

With his open letter to the music industry, Steve Jobs has done an excellent job of shifting the attention away from Apple's iPod/iTunes DRM based lock-in, and onto the music industry that supplies the content driving the sales of Apple's hardware. I think my favourite quote amongst the responses I stumbled upon on the web was: "The greatest trick Apple pulled was to build a market where lock-in is mandated, but convince the world that this was something they did...
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February 14, 2007

Guess Brit babes bra size, and you can help catch rapists in The Sun

I've mentioned before the sometimes unfortunate editorial juxtapositions online caused by The Sun's twin obsessions of looking at ladies boobies and catching 'sick pervs', but sometimes it is just beyond parody. Today's Valentine's Day Sun homepage puts next to each other a promotion about guessing the bra size of topless Brit girls, and one for "Sun Justice" in helping to catch rapists. It isn't entirely clear whether guessing the bra sizes also helps catch the rapist, but there you go....
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Thanks for the score BBC Sport - but who actually won?

I'm sure, like the media coverage of A-Level results, I moan about this every year, but it is that time of the year - F.A. Cup replays - where I get to gripe again about the way replay results are presented on the BBC's mobile phone service. Last night provided a classic example. The tie between Middlesbrough and Bristol City turned out to be an epic of the genre, with first one team being ahead, then the other, and in...
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February 13, 2007

Beatles digital downloads facing a ticking copyright time-bomb

The recent announcement that Apple (computers) and Apple (Beatles music) have settled their trademark differences has prompted a great deal of speculation that the Beatles catalogue will finally become legally available on digital music download stores. There has also been speculation that when (rather than if) this happens, thanks to the new chart rules, the Beatles could clog up the UK singles charts as people rush to download tracks from one of Britain's most successful musical exports. James Masterton has...
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February 12, 2007

Failing to petition Number Ten on Darwin Day

Having been nudged to sign a petition to make Charles Darwin day a national holiday in the UK, I rushed off over to the Number 10 Downing Street petitions site to do just that. Sadly, it wasn't playing fair today. First of all it wouldn't let me sign up because the site was too busy. Then, when I did get a confirmation email, following the link led me to a 503 Service Unavailable error page. The site is a beta...
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Think Arsenal, Think Israel, but don't think Cyprus or any other national symbol

Late last year there was a controversy at the Emirates Stadium in London where Arsenal play their home games. Mete Ahmed was flying a flag of the internationally unrecognised Turish Republic of Northern Cyprus. This upset a lot of people, as Greek Cypriots find the flag offensive as a symbol of the division of the island, and there was a campaign to stop it being flown. At first Arsenal reasonably said that the politics of the situation were nothing to...
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February 9, 2007

A "scientific" equation for musical piracy

Sometimes outraged tabloid newspapers run stories about scientists who have spent x amount of taxpayers money and researched a formula for happiness or beer goggles or the perfect cup of tea. Following on from my post yesterday about what drives people to use legal music download services when there are free (if illegal) alternatives if you know how, I've derived what I think is a broad formula outlining the factors in people making a choice between a legal purchase and...
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February 8, 2007

BBC News in a copywriting fix over copyright

Following on from first Bill Gates and now Steve Jobs wading in with their views about the DRM status of online music purchases, the BBC News site has a "Have Your Say" discussion about the issue - "Is this the end of copy protection for online music?" One of the BBC's sub-editors has gone a bit rogue on the homepage though. At the moment the International edition of the BBC News site is promoting the thread with a tagline asking...
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Why people download music legally

A lot of my recent blog entries have been about downloading products from the entertainment industry, whether TV or music, by fair means or foul. A few days ago someone left a comment on one of my posts about the music digital download market, saying: "It's still a mystery to me why people actually go to sites and pay to download music. Any explanations?" That got me thinking about the primary motivations behind either stealing or purchasing music, so I...
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February 7, 2007

OFCOM and the BBC Trust do not appear to have heard of games

If you've carefully read through the documents published in the last weeks by the BBC Trust and OFCOM about the BBC's proposed on demand services and the iPlayer, you'd be forgiven for misunderstanding one large element of the home entertainment landscape in the UK. OFCOM, in particular, look at several major media formats in the UK, and the iPlayer's potential impact on consumption, on secondary rights sales, and on innovation and investment in nascent markets. The BBC Trust for their...
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February 6, 2007

Can we really quantify how much 'free' TV downloads distort the value of the market?

With the release last week of the BBC Trust's provisional findings into the proposed iPlayer on demand service, there has been a lot of focus in the places where I hang out online on the market impact of downloads and piracy. After several attempts over the last few months, I resigned myself to the fact that I was never going to be online long enough to BitTorrent down the Season 2 box sets of 'Lost' and 'Desperate Housewives'. Realising that...
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February 5, 2007

The BBC's definition of "stackable series" in the iPlayer doesn't make commercial sense to me

I mentioned in my previous post about the iPlayer that I found I could not agree with everything that had been said by the BBC Trust in their proposed approval of the BBC's new on demand services, nor with all of OFCOM's submission about the potential market impact of the service. One area where I find the BBC Trust's decision mystifying is on the issue of series stacking. They have decided to divide BBC programming into series which can be...
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February 3, 2007

Paul Dacre's claim that, due to the BBC, commercial radio is "ailing"

Despite the odd government white-wash inspired truce along the way, I imagine that my worldview and that of the Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre are almost implacably opposed. I read with interest, therefore, his much quoted Cudlipp lecture the other week, which amongst other things, accused the BBC of "cultural Marxism". I don't want to look at the speech as a whole, as Lloyd Shepherd has already done that job for me - my favourite line in Lloyd's response being...
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February 2, 2007

The BBC iPlayer's odd bookmarking restriction

At the weekend I bumped into an ex-colleague from the BBC at Stansted Airport, and one of the things we chatted about was the iPlayer project that they were working on - so I was even more interested than usual this week when the BBC Trust announced their preliminary findings about the BBC's proposed on demand services. Whilst I can't say I agree with all of the restrictions that are being proposed for the service, nor with the whole of...
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